With Police, Firefighter Vacancy Rates High, Senate Panel Mulls Retirement Benefit Hikes

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Rep. Carol McGuire and Rep. Dan McGuire speak at the Senate Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.


CONCORD – With police, fire and prison security recruitment issues continually facing the state and vacancy rates as high as 20 percent, Group II retirement benefits for state employees was before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday where the issue died last year.

About 1,700 employees are impacted by this bill and the current ask, passed out of the House has a price tag of about $53 million. 

Senate President Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, asked the New Hampshire Retirement System to give the Senate an analysis of two different payment scenarios which could be included in the bill and likely mean that the matter would go back to the House if passed.

Currently House Bill 1647-FN-A modifies the group II members retirement annuity multipliers for the New Hampshire Retirement System.

The bill applies a 2.5 percent retirement annuity multiplier to creditable service earned beyond 10 years of service for Group II members who started before July 1, 2011 without reaching vested status by Jan. 1, 2012 or began service on or after July 1, 2011.

It also applies to those who have attained the age of 60 regardless of the number of years of service or who work up to their full age and service requirement and retire under a service retirement.

However, if a service member retires prior to reaching the full age and service requirements, the annuity multiplier remains the same as the first 10 years of creditable service, according to the methodology in the bill.

In executive session, Bradley has asked for a potential amendment to be drafted awaiting retirement system officials’ financial and actuarial scenarios for 15 years at 2.5 percent for Tier B as well as 10 years at 2.5 a percent multiplier to come up with the unfunded liability.

The House version of the bill received no opposition at the hearing in the Senate.

There was only support from legislators and representatives of various union groups as a step in the right direction which is far less in cost than a measure to fix it which floated last year and failed.

Many said the state is losing these Group II workers to neighboring states which now have better benefits. 

Most all other retained or current bills on this subject have died.

The grand total of the bill is $53.6 million, a considerable decrease from the previous proposals.

“We think it is an entirely reasonable request,” said state Rep. Dan McGuire, R-Epsom, who introduced the bill, adding “we have a serious hiring problem.”

Rep. Carol McGuire, R-Epsom, urged the committee to restore the multiplier but extend it to new hires.

Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, asked the committee to look favorably on this issue as well.

She was a member of the commission which studied the issues with the McGuires where there were 20 proposals submitted, and three recommendations which related to vesting periods and other issues.

Manchester used to have long waiting lists for jobs at the fire department. Now, they are lucky to get 10 or 12 people, she said. 

“People are also leaving with six to eight years on the job which would never have happened,” before 2011 when the changes were enacted.

“It’s an impact to all of us,” she said.

Last year, McGuire said there were about 1,800 people “in the middle” in this category where now it is 1,700.

“This group does not participate in Social Security,” she said, and the individuals and the communities are not paying into that system.

Joshua Quigley, director of the NH Police Association, said he wanted to convey the strong support of the organization for the bill. 

Passing this would be an improvement for recruitment and retention of “your troopers.”

Arthur Beaudry, president of the NH Permanent Retirement Association, also spoke in support of the bill.

In 2011 the state changed the retirement system and vested status, he explained. He said he believed legislators likely did not know the impact thereafter.

Beaudry said when the state downshifted the costs to municipalities the employee was impacted at the retirement table and many have left the profession.

Mark Beaudoin, a retired state police sergeant who is representing the New Hampshire Police Association, said vacancy rates are as high as 20 percent. 

Prior to the change, the NH retirement system acted as an anchor to keep people working, he said. He had an opportunity to go to federal service, but this system kept him here.

“Law enforcement is something you really want people to make a career out of, not just a job,” Beaudoin said.

Brian Ryll, representing the New Hampshire Professional Firefighters Association, said he understands there is a cost to this. 

He noted some estimates to fix this are as high as $250 million “and where we are now, we have come a long way.”

What his organization is asking for is some hope and a potential benefit that “can keep your firefighters, police here in the state.”

The Senate Finance Committee will await an analysis of various other scenarios outlined by Bradley before voting on any recommendation.


A bill providing a supplemental appropriation for members of the retirement system receiving an accidental disability retirement allowance, was also heard by the committee.

 Rep. Carol McGuire said the bill makes sure that cost of living increases are extended to this group. 

It in the past had been limited to those who have worked 20 or more years.

What this bill does is add in a one-time, $500 benefit and changes the cost-of-living adjustment.

Arthur Beaudry supported the stipend for those who did not want to retire but had, he said, because of their work injuries.

The benefits have not kept up with the cost of living, he said and while the funding in House Bill 1307-FN is not entirely adequate it is “a step in the right direction.”

The bill indicates this would impact 802 individuals with a cost of about $401,000 from the general fund.


A bill aimed at connecting students with healthy food from their local farms was also considered by the Senate Finance Committee after surviving a challenge in the House.

Rep. Alexis Simpson, D-Exeter, prime sponsor of House Bill 1678-FN, said it would encourage spending $400,000 from federal resources while spending a lesser amount of state dollars and would help to sustain children and their local farms and fishermen. 

Applications would be taken from schools and farms and one pilot program for two-years would be allowed in each of the ten counties.

This bill was modified by the House, which passed it 191-182 in April.

Only school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program can participate.

Rep. Dan McGuire said it was overturned on the floor. 

“Our logic in (Republicans) rejecting the bill was that the fiscal committee accepted money last summer to do basically the same thing without the level of bureaucracy that this bill has.”

Brodie Deshaies, policy manager of New Hampshire Hunger Solutions, said access to local food is good for students and supports local businesses.

This program would be a New Hampshire-owned program which would not require having to go to governor and council for authorizations over $10,000.

Stacey Purslow, program coordinator for the NH Farm to School Program, said activities include procurement, and school gardens.

It would provide educational opportunities, help farmers and nourish families. There would be an increased investment in agriculture and it would allow for the development and strengthening of supply chain resiliency, tested during the pandemic, and allow farms to get better prices.

Nikki Kolb, operations director at the Northeast Organic Farming Association of NH, said the organization supports the bill and would keep federal dollars in New Hampshire.

There are state dollars involved in the bill. The sum of $120,500 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2025 is required.

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