Alabama's supernumerary retirement program is costing the state's general fund almost $6.5 million a year for just 47 retired district attorneys.
Most employees would welcome the opportunity to receive 75 percent of their salary, plus health insurance and other perks, during retirement.
An exclusive group of state government retirees in Alabama receive this generous compensation. And when we say "exclusive," we mean it.
The state's general fund is paying almost $6.5 million a year to just 47 retired district attorneys.
The money includes an annual salary of $111,952, plus health insurance and expenses. The salary is about 75 percent of the $148,936 a year that the state pays active district attorneys.
There are only two drawbacks for the retired district attorneys. They can be called back into service on a short-term basis. And when they die, their spouses receive nothing.
"It sounds like a really good deal until you pull back the rug and start looking at it," said Randy Hillman, executive director of the Office of Prosecution Services and state District Attorneys Association.
"That's a lot of money," said state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, who is chairman of the Senate committee that oversees the general fund.
So the retirees and taxpayers have an incentive to change a system that is costing the state's financially strapped general fund too much money.
The district attorneys cannot participate in the state's standard retirement plan because they are subject to being called back to work.
But that doesn't mean they can't contribute to their retirement during their full-time working years, as Orr wants them to do.
State Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, said he is OK with examining the retirement package, but he doesn't want to change the benefits for current supernumeraries. Although the program is too generous to the district attorneys, it is the agreement under which they retired.
State legislators and the District Attorneys Association are discussing changes.
As Orr and others suggest, the alterations should include retirement contributions from the district attorneys while they are working full time. Also, widows or widowers of district attorneys should continue to receive retirement pay similar to the standard state retirement plan.
Rather than compensating all retired district attorneys the same amount under the assumption they will be recalled for service, the state should pay only for the services provided by retirees.
Those changes are fair for the district attorneys, a better deal for spouses and taxpayers, and should be implemented in the next legislative session for future district attorneys.