Lawmakers Consider Lowering Pension Requirements for Delaware Co - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Lawmakers Consider Lowering Pension Requirements for Delaware Correctional Officers

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DOVER, Del. -- A bill reducing the years of service for Delaware correctional officers and several other types of "peace officers" to receive a pension from the state is under consideration by lawmakers, though the sponsor said on Monday there are questions about its cost.

Sen. Bruce Ennis (D-Smyrna), a member of the Joint Finance Committee, said the legislation had a fiscal note of more than $6 million, though he expected it would be less costly than that amount. The bill was set to be considered by the Senate finance committee, though Ennis said questions about costs have prevented it from advancing.

"I'm having that investigated because we're already obligated for 25 years so this drop to five here should not be $6.1 million."

Lack of movement on the bill has drawn the ire of leaders with the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware. In a statement, Union President Geoff Klopp was critical of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Harris McDowell.

"By failing to address legislation which has little financial impact, our members are coming to believe help isn't coming from anywhere. In a while, we won't have to worry about retirement. COAD members will simply leave and go.somewhere else," he said.

McDowell declined to comment for this story.

The legislation would also amend the multiplier for calculation of state employee pension benefits for correction officers and some other peace officers to 2.5 percent for the first 20 years, plus 3.5 percent for years beyond that point.

The bill would also amend the employee contribution for all correction officers and amend the employee employee contribution to 7 percent for correction officers and specified peace officers, which includes probation and parole officers, many of which work for agencies like Capitol Police or DNREC Police.

But Rep. Harvey Kenton (R-District 36), also a JFC member, said it would be difficult to support this type of legislation in a year when the state is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $400 million.

"Would it be irresponsible for me to commit when I'm asking every state agency to take huge cuts? To be able to commit to something else right now, there's just too many uncertainties at this time," he said.

According to the legislation, "the increased multipliers reflect increased costs, reduced benefits and the need to recruit and retain qualified and competent correction officers and specified peace officers with a modernized pension benefit."

Correctional officer retention is among the numerous issues raised by the union representing correctional officers following the Feb. 1 hostage situation at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna. Correctional Officer Steven Floyd died in the incident.

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