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Double dipping: 'Savings' towns from themselves

February 25. 2018 1:38PM

For the past decade, Republicans at the New Hampshire State House have been working to address the unfunded liability in the New Hampshire Retirement System (NHRS) while Democrats have fought tooth and nail against every reform.

So it was odd last week to see Senate Democrats leading the charge to address the abusive practice of double dipping, with a trio of Senate Republicans breaking ranks to push the bill through.

Towns may hire NHRS retirees to supplement the local workforce, but only for 32 hours per week. Some towns have used this as a loophole to hire high-level employees, including police and fire chiefs, and avoid NHRS contributions. These towns are shortchanging the system, and ultimately themselves.

Republicans Jeb Bradley, Regina Birdsell, and Sharon Carson joined the Senate's 10 Democrats to require any town that hires a NHRS pension-holder for more than 25 hours per week to also make a retirement contribution.

Sen. Gary Daniels, R-Milford, thinks this is limiting choices for towns facing hiring shortages. It isn't. Towns can still hire retired workers part-time, but not as a way to get around the NHRS.

Daniels and his GOP colleagues have worked hard to get the NHRS on track to long-term solvency. Curbing double dipping is a small but important step in shoring up the state's public sector retirement plan.

This isn't picking on New Hampshire towns. It is simply closing a loophole that has tempted local officials to choose short-term savings over long-term stability. We hope the House agrees.

Labor Local and County Government Editorial

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