AUGUSTA, Maine — State budget projections show that hundreds of Maine state workers and teachers may vacate their jobs for retirement within the next several months because of a budget proposal to make them pay for their health coverage.
Maine Today Media newspapers reported Sunday that 600 to 700 state workers and 1,000 teachers likely will retire before Jan. 1 because of changes proposed in Gov. Paul LePage’s budget. Under his plan, state workers and teachers who retire after Jan. 1 would have to pay for their coverage until they turn 65.
Mary Anne Turowski, a lobbyist for the Maine State Employees Association, said people close to retirement may have wanted to work for an additional year to pay for a child’s college education.
But if they do, and then retire before they are 65, they face paying more than $8,000 a year out-of-pocket for health coverage.
“I think our members are quite appalled,” she said. “It’s a broken promise.”
Finance Commissioner Sawin Millett says the changes could save the state $11.4 million over the next two years. But for teachers, they would cost the state $2 million because more than double the usual number of teachers would retire.