Current law allows a service retiree of any division of the public employees' retirement association (PERA) to work for a PERA employer for limited periods and to receive a salary without reduction in benefits under certain circumstances. Boards of cooperative services (BOCES) provide special education services to the school districts they serve. Almost all of these school districts are in rural parts of the state and it is difficult for BOCES to find qualified people to serve as special service providers in these areas. BOCES could address this issue by hiring service retirees, but PERA's employment-after-retirement provisions, including the limitation on the number of days in a calendar year that a service retiree may work for a PERA employer without a reduction in benefits, make it difficult to do so.
The bill modifies the current PERA employment-after-retirement provisions for certain retirees hired by a BOCES if:
- The BOCES hires the service retiree to provide services in 2 or more rural school districts as determined by the department of education based on the geographic size of the school district and the distance of the school district from the nearest large, urbanized area;
- The BOCES hires the service retiree for the purpose of providing special services to students enrolled by the districts served by the BOCES; and
- The BOCES determines that there is a critical shortage of special service providers and that the service retiree has specific experience, skills, or qualifications that would benefit the districts that the BOCES serves.
A service retiree who is a special service provider and who is hired by a BOCES may receive salary without a reduction in benefits for any length of employment in a calendar year if the service retiree has not worked for any PERA employer during the month of the effective date of retirement.
The bill requires a BOCES that hires the service retiree to provide full payment of all PERA employer contributions, disbursements, and working retiree contributions. In addition, the BOCES is required to pay an additional amount equal to 2% of the retiree's salary to PERA.
A service retiree may not receive salary without reduction in benefits and without limitation in a calendar year for more than 5 consecutive years, and all BOCES combined are prohibited from hiring more than a total of 40 people over 5 years pursuant to the extension in PERA's employment-after-retirement limitations.
PERA is required to submit a report to the general assembly regarding specified aspects of the extension of PERA's employment-after-retirement limitations.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)