Wash. Senate approves penalties for early retirees

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- The state Senate is in favor of new penalties for state workers who take early retirements.

Senators approved the measure Tuesday evening by a margin of 27-22, clearing a major hurdle in the quest by lawmakers to complete their work.

State workers who retire before the age of 62 are already penalized with lower pension benefits. Under the new bill, those penalties will increase to as high as a 50 percent reduction for workers retiring at the age of 55.

The changes only apply to workers hired starting in May 2013. The plan would save the state an estimated $1.3 billion over 25 years.

Lawmakers also agreed to reduce the assumed rate of return in the pension system to 7.7 percent instead of 8 percent. Some lawmakers viewed the 8 percent figure as overly optimistic.