PORTLAND (AP) — The average pensions and earnings of Maine’s retired employees who return to work is down, but criticism remains high.

Senate Minority Leader Kenneth Fredette of Newport told the Portland Press Herald that he finds it offensive that people can collect both high pensions and a big salary.

Rob Walker, director of the Maine Education Association, said the practice can actually save school districts money because they don’t have to contribute to retirees’ pensions when they return to work.

A records request by the newspaper shows the average pension for so-called “double dippers” dropped by about $2,000 since 2011 and their average earnings declined by more than $5,000.

About 80 percent of those who work and draw a pension work in education.

Fredette is proposing legislation that would cap salaries of educators who also draw a pension at between 75 to 90 percent of the posted salary.


The formula for determining an employee pension is based on the average of an employee’s three highest years of earnings, the number of years worked and the employee’s age at retirement.

Walker told the Telegram the belief that the employees are cheating the system is wrong, and that rehiring retirees can make sense because they can provide institutional knowledge, fill hard-to-fill positions and save school districts money.

“This is money these employees earned over many years of service,” he said.

Most of the employees who work and collect a pension are employed by a school district or municipality. Approximately 80 percent are in education.

Records provided to the newspaper by the Maine Public Employees Retirement System show that 2,380 public employees drew both a salary and a pension in 2014. That number has been level for the last four years and represents about 5 percent of all public employees collecting a pension.

Maine lawmakers debated a bill in 2013 that would have overhauled the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, but that bill carried over into the 2014 session but eventually died.

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