- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The Alabama Senate is trying to give retired state employees their first pension bonus since 2008.

The Senate voted 23-9 Tuesday to approve a bill by Republican Sen. Del Marsh of Anniston that would give the one-time bonus in the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1.

Support for the bill came primarily from Republicans and opposition from Democrats who wanted a larger bonus. The bill still must be approved by the House and signed by the governor to take effect.

Under Marsh’s bill, retired state employees would get $2 per month for each year of service. A retiree who worked 25 years would get $600. Everyone would get at least $300 even if the formula worked out to less, Marsh said.

Democratic Sen. Roger Bedford said the state could afford more and tried to increase the amount. The Senate’s Republican majority voted that down. Proponents of the $2 plan said that will cost $13 million, and that’s about as much as the state can afford.

“This is a fiscally responsible approach to give our retirees a needed financial boost without jeopardizing long-term benefits by increasing the Retirement System’s unfunded liability,” Marsh said. “It’s good for retirees, it’s good for the RSA, and it’s good for taxpayers, too,” Marsh said.

His bill applies to about 21,000 retired state employees. It allows cities and counties that participate in the Retirement Systems of Alabama to extend the bonus to their 19,000 retirees if they want.

Retired state employees last got bonuses in 2007 and 2008, and they averaged about $300 per employee, according the Alabama Retired State Employees Association.

Marsh’s bill does not apply to retired education employees

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