Deep within a working draft of the budget implementation bill is a provision that would reform the judicial pension system.
Currently, judges are eligible to earn a six-figure pension after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 — whether they have served on the bench for decades or whether they have served for one day.
That fact has chafed at many lawmakers, especially this year, when two 66-year-old jurists were nominated to the bench. “Shame on us that we haven’t dealt with these issues earlier than this,” Democratic Sen. Andrew Maynard of Stonington said late last month, during a debate on the confirmation of one of those judges.
Sen. John Kissel, a Republican from Enfield, vowed to press for changes to the system before the end of the 2014 legislative session.
Under the proposed language in the implementer bill, judges who have fewer than 10 years on the job will see their retirement pay reduced.
The provision is contained within Section 252: judges, family support magistrates and compensation commissioners who attain the age of seventy while serving or are retired because of disability shall receive as retirement, annually, two-thirds of their “except that if a judge, family support magistrate or compensation commissioner has fewer than ten years of state service credit under the provisions of chapter 66 at the time of his or her retirement under this subdivision, his or her retirement salary shall be a reduced amount determined as follows: (A) Two-thirds of the salary the judge, family support magistrate or compensation commissioner was receiving at the time of his or her retirement, multiplied by (B) a fraction, the numerator of which is the number of years of his or her completed state service and the denominator of which is ten.”
The implementation bill has not been voted on by either chamber of the General Assembly; it is expected to be voted on by the time the legislature adjourns at midnight on Wednesday.
The issue of judge’s salaries was raised several times in both the House and the Senate during the confirmation hearings of Timothy D. Bates of Noank and Anthony Avallone of New Haven; both men are 66.