Originally created 02/25/97

Senate OKs board to oversee pensions



ATLANTA - The Senate moved to clamp down on hefty pensions for former state workers Monday, passing legislation to create an oversight commission to approve or deny early retirement payouts.

The bill - which passed 55-0 - comes on the heels of sharp criticism aimed at Public Safety Commissioner Sid Miles, who last year dismissed 13 high-ranking staff members, making them eligible for early pensions.

The staffers, who ranged from sergeant to lieutenant colonel, received early pensions up to $79,000.

The workers were eligible for early pensions under an involuntary separation law that was supposed to prevent massive layoffs when a new administration takes office.

The law has produced such controversial results over the years that the Legislature in 1972 repealed it for anyone hired after that year. It still applies to those hired before 1972.

"We've seen this misused," said Senate Majority Leader Sonny Perdue, D-Bonaire, who authored the bill. "I think this offends the taxpayers ... I think it's time we did something."

The measure now goes to the House.