The General Assembly unanimously passed a bill last weekend that aims to allow more retired firefighters and police officers to access payments that supplement their pensions.
Current code only allows retired county or municipal police and firefighters access to supplemental payments from a special fund if a county or municipal government submits a proposal to the State Board of Pension Trustees.
Under that system, there have only been five disbursements from this special fund in its 48 year history.
And the average surviving spouse under Wilmington’s Police and Fire retirement plan receives a pension of only a little over $10,000, according to the bill.
State Rep. Helene Keeley says that’s what drove her to co-sponsor it.
“When you have a survivor who is living below 2012 poverty level, it was time to do something,” she said.
The new legislation would let the State Board of Pension Trustees distribute payments to eligible people receiving retirement, disability, or survivor pensions of less than $35,000 a year, even without a proposal
These payments would vary based on length of retirement, and according to a state Senate official, would be at most $9,000 every two years.
The payments come from a special fund fed by a tax on insurance companies, according to a Senate official.
Payments would not be considered pension increases.
A similar bill passed the General Assembly in 2012, but then-Governor Jack Markell vetoed it.
A spokesperson for Governor Carney says the legislation remains under legal review, the typical process before a bill reaches the Governor’s desk for his signature.