A bill has been introduced in the Wisconsin State Senate that would increase the minimum retirement age from 55 to 59.5 for teachers and other public employees who participate in the Wisconsin Retirement System.

The change would apply to workers who are under 40 when it goes into effect.

Under the bill, retired employees could be re-hired for up to three years while still receiving pension pay.

The bill is co-authored by Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon).

“People are living longer and working longer and the minimum retirement age was set decades ago,” Sen. Stroebel said in a statement. “The biggest recruiting issue for state employees I hear is pay not benefits. Lowering the cost of the pension system will lower contribution rates for both taxpayers and employees, raising take-home pay.”

While the bill is intended to combat the teacher shortage in the state, it has been met with some criticism by some in the Wisconsin Education System who fear it could do the opposite.

“I saw all the changes in Act 10 and all so those things are making it more difficult to be an educator in the state and as we look at the teacher shortage we are seeing the side effects of those changes,” said Mark Goings, president of the Eau Claire Association of Educators.

Goings, who has been teaching in Eau Claire for more than 25 years, says in addition to Act 10, he is worried the change in retirement age could be another deterrent to teaching in the state.

“To squeeze out a few more years that people aren’t able to be in front of a classroom in ways they were in the past is why this is a misguided attempt of trying to have educators here,” said Goings. “We need to have people who want to stay and begin careers here.”

However, Sen. Strobel says he does not believe young workers in their twenties or thirties are already planning for their retirement.

Dr. Mary Ann Hardebeck, Superintendent of the Eau Claire Area School District says she will be closely watching the progression of the bill.

“I think the intention of the bill is to provide more flexibility for districts and retirees in terms of returning to work and filling those hard to fill positions without having to pay a penalty, but I do think there could be some unintended consequences,” said Hardebeck. “Employees who are under the age of 40 who might have already invested 18 years within a district might have second thoughts about staying with the district for fear of more change.”

To read more about Senate Bill 612, click here.