A record number of government employees in Wisconsin decided to retire in 2011, a year which brought big changes to public employee benefits and union bargaining rights.
The state pension fund received nearly 18,800 retirement applications last year from employees of state agencies, school districts and local governments. That compares to an average of about 10,500 in each of the previous seven years.
Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature cut collective bargaining rights for most public sector unions and required their members to contribute to their pensions and pay more for health insurance.
Department of Employee Trust Funds spokeswoman Shawn Smith tells the State Journal (http://bit.ly/zfJPpp ) increased retirements can also be attributed to an aging workforce, including those who put off retirement in recent years because of the economy.