A large public employee union says the perceived “war on state workers” could be taking its toll, as many more are expected to retire this fiscal year than last. Anders Lindall, spokesman for AFSCME Council 31, says rank-and-file workers are blamed for causing the state’s budget mess through health care and pension benefits.

“Public service used to be a higher calling,” he says. “Now it seems that every time a public employee turns around, she or he is being blamed for all that ails the state of Illinois.”

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Lindall says the state workforce is aging and many were set to retire soon anyway, but some may do so earlier than they wanted because of potential changes to employee pensions and health care options.

More state workers have retired so far this fiscal year than in all of last year. It’s predicted 40 percent more state workers will retire if the current trend continues.

A spokeswoman for the governor’s office of management and budget says agencies will continue to try getting things done with smaller workforces – although some spots are essential and will be filled.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/ www.altondailynews.com)