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Many Long-Time State Workers Retiring Early Over Benefits Fears


MADISON, Wis. (WTAQ) - Many long-time state government employees are retiring early, for fear that Governor-elect Scott Walker will take away the benefits they’ve earned.

About 50 DNR veterans are heading out the door, twice as many as a year ago.

The Department of Employee Trust Funds says the number of state and local employees asking about their retirement benefits jumped by 80 percent in early December, compared to the same time in 2009.

And the department put a notice on its Web site stressing that benefits already accrued cannot be taken away.

It also said the agency has not seen any proposals about changing the policy of letting retirees pay for state health insurance with their unused sick leave. Still, 37-year DNR veteran Bob Barnum says he’s seen enough.

He tells the Wisconsin State Journal it’s “sad when you don’t trust the new boss coming in.” DNR water supply specialist Carol McCurry says she handles public safety and, “It’s not something we should have to fight to do.”

But incoming Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald wonders why people would leave before giving Walker a chance to roll out his plans. Spokesman Cullen Werwie says Walker knows there are great people in state agencies – and he hopes they’d be willing work with the new governor on, “innovative reforms.”