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Apr 23, 2012 7:31 PM by Maddie Garrett

Retirement and Pension System Changes Upset State Employees

Plans to overhaul the State's retirement and pension systems are not sitting well with some lawmakers and state employees. State officials and employees gathered in Baton Rouge on Monday to speak out against the changes and push to defeat the governor's proposal.

"It seems to me like the governor wants to cut from the bottom up instead of the top down," said Representative James Armes at a press conference Monday.

Armes is urging other lawmakers to vote down Governor Bobby Jindal's latest bills to revamp the state's retirement system.

"I don't want to see our people who have worked so hard and so long for what little money they are going to get from retirement, to lose one penny of it. And they shouldn't have to work for any longer than what they signed on to," said Armes.

The changes would raise the retirement age from 55 to 67 and require employees to pay more into pension plans. Roughly 55,000 state employees would be affected.

While proponents say the changes are necessary to offset rising debt in the pension system, Armes argued the changes could actually make things worse.

"If this bill passes, you'll see a lot of people retiring early which will hurt the retirement system," he explained.

The bill includes a two-step benefit plan under which employees keep benefits accrued to date and then start a new one based on age and years of service. Governor Jindal said cuts are needed to preserve the system. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the changes at the end of the month.

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