Lawmakers nibble at pension problems

Mississippi lawmakers want to cut down on state employees who are double-dipping — drawing a state retirement while continuing to be paid either as contract or part-time workers.

The practice, say advocates of the change, has gotten more prevalent during the budget pinch, as state agencies try to cut their payroll costs by pushing part of them onto the state retirement system.

A bill working its way through the Legislature is intended to discourage the cost-shifting. It would require state agencies to continue to pay into the Public Employees Retirement System for these workers. It also would extend the waiting period before employees could return to work for a state agency beyond the current 45-day wait.

These changes are good ones, but they are only nibbling at the edges of the long-term financial difficulties facing the retirement system that covers some 373,000 state, county and city workers, including 80,000 current retirees.

Greenwood Commonwealth