The Montgomery Advertiser explained that DROP allows state and education employees who are 55 years old and have 25 years of service to receive salary and retirement benefits while continuing to work. Republicans felt it was necessary to eliminate the program, which they called a “luxury retirement program,” during these tough economic years, according to the news report.
Before signing the bill, Bentley added an executive amendment allowing those who were eligible and who had signed up for the program before he signed the bill into law to still be enrolled. The governor’s lawyers were concerned about the legality of the bill although his advisers told legislators that extending the enrollment would be too costly and that they had evaluated the legality.
Bentley, in a statement, said he amended the bill to avoid “protracted litigation expense” and to “offer further clarification on the eligibility participation,” according to the Advertiser.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said the state could save $40 million to $50 million by eliminating the program.However, Democrats expressed concern that the state is eliminating a retirement program intended to keep quality teachers from retiring early or leaving for another state.