By John Larson
The New Mexico Educational Retirement Board amended its recommendations concerning retirement eligibility requirements for employees of all public schools in the state, from local school systems to universities. The new requirements will be submitted the state legislature during its 60 day session, which begins on Jan. 18.
After a public comment period during a special board meeting on Dec. 17 in Albuquerque, the board voted unanimously to recommend two new requirements for collecting retirement pay. Both used a formula based on years of service in addition the employee’s age.
For those employed before July 1, 2010, the current eligibility requirement of 25 years will be retained. For those whose employment began afterward, there is a new requirement of 30 years.
In addition, all employees will see a one-half percent increase in their retirement fund contributions. This increase will be phased in over a four-year period, resulting in an increase of .0125 percent per year.
New Mexico Tech President Dan Lopez said in light of the financial state of the retirement funds, the decision of the board was more acceptable than the initial recommendation, which called for raising the number of years a person is employed from 25 to 35, raising member contributions to 9.9 percent of salary, and reducing benefits by 2.4 percent if retirement is before age 60.
“What they are needing to do is insure solvency – that the funds are sufficient to fulfill retirement pay if everyone currently employed works until retirement. It’s a big improvement over the original plan,” said Lopez. “But, of course, this will all have to be approved by the legislature.”
New Mexico Tech currently has about 1,000 employees.
ERB Chairwoman Mary Lou Cameron said, “This recommendation is expected to achieve the board’s goal of reaching the recommended Government Accounting Standards Board criterion of 80 percent funding within 30 years.”
Those wanting more information can visit www.nmerb.org, or contact Jan Goodwin, NMERB executive director, at 505-476-6118.