Public workers in New York could have an incentive to retire early under a proposal by a pair of state lawmakers unveiled on Thursday. 

The bill backed by Sen. Peter Harckham and Assemblyman Tom Abinanti would create early retirement incentives for workers 55 and older who have 10 years of service with state or workers with 25 years of government service. A separate bill that covers early retirement for public workers in New York City was previously introduced. 

The bill comes as local government finances have been scrambled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue from the sales tax, for instance, dropped 10% statewide. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted the finances of the State, as well as all of our municipalities, and early retirement incentives offer bottom-line relief to their budgets,” Harckham said. “By streamlining the workforce, we will create real savings across the board, and at the same time open up job opportunities for residents in many instances.”

The measure would apply to workers who are members of the New York State and Local Employees Retirement System; New York City Employees Retirement System; New York State Teachers Retirement System; New York City Teachers Retirement System; and New York City Board of Education Retirement-System.

To be eligible, a worker would have to be in a position that can be eliminated.

Workers who are members of the police and fire retirement systems were not included in the measure; those employees are covered by previous service commitments of 20 years and 25 years.

“It is better that longtime employees retire with guaranteed income than governments be forced to lay off employees who then seek unemployment benefits,” said Abinanti. “Retirements in the short term will cut local payrolls, and in the long term, open jobs for those who want to work in government."