Delaware Correctional Officers Back Pension Bill - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delaware Correctional Officers Back Pension Bill

Posted: May 30, 2018 7:19 PM Updated:

DOVER, Del. --- Delaware correctional officers are backing a state Senate Bill aimed at offering additional pension incentives, a move aimed at keeping longtime officers from quitting before 25 years of service.

Senate Bill 95 amends the multiplier prospectively for the calculation of pension benefits for correction officers and specified peace officers. The bill initially said it would reduce the number of years for retirement to 20 years, though an amendment introduced by the chief sponsor would keep it at 25 years.

Geoff Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware, said he had hoped lawmakers on the legislature's Joint Finance Committee would move to set aside money to fund the legislation, though that did not happen as lawmakers finished up budget markup on Wednesday.

Klopp said giving correctional officers better pensions would help retain officers at a time when staffing shortages force COs to work mandatory overtime to fill shifts. A report on the 2016 inmate uprising a the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center --- in which Correctional Officer Steven Floyd was killed --- called the prison critically understaffed.

"It would incentivize them to stick around," Klopp said. "We're just setting it up for another terrible outcome in the Department of Correction."

Sen. Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington North), a JFC co-chairman, said the group was trying to limit long-term expenses despite a projected surplus in the upcoming budget year that's estimated in the tens of millions. He also noted the state has moved spend millions on boosting COs' salaries and addressing safety concerns at prisons.

Additionally, McDowell pointed to collective bargaining between correctional officers and the state as a reason why JFC did not want to allocate the money at this point.

"It's a little late in the process to come here on the last day and say 'oh we want money or for us to give them money, when they've had a process to follow." 

The legislation could be considered by lawmakers when they return to session next week.

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