Pension Battle Brewing in Alabama

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The state of Alabama is stuck in a jam of its own making. Last year--well after it was clear that budgets would be tight--the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a deferred retirement pension plan for teachers. The program awards a lump sum bonus payment to any teacher over 55 who has 25 years of experience and agrees not to retire for another three to five years. The program was projected to cost $26 million, which is a pretty hefty sum in the face of a $285 million budget shortfall. Of course, that which has been given cannot easily be taken back: the head of the Alabama State Employees Association vows "one hell of a fight."