More than 300 employees of Secretary of State Jesse White are being offered an incentive to leave their jobs by the end of the year. Letters have been mailed to all employees with 30 or more years of service credit, White spokesman Dave Druker said. It says the office will pay a lump sum of $5,000 to anyone in that group who agrees to quit working in the office by January 1.

More than 300 employees of Secretary of State Jesse White are being offered an incentive to leave their jobs by the end of the year.

Letters have been mailed to all employees with 30 or more years of service credit, White spokesman Dave Druker said. It says the office will pay a lump sum of $5,000 to anyone in that group who agrees to quit working in the office by January 1.

"We are able to financially offer this incentive at this time due to the salary savings from those employees that will retire through this program," the letter states. "However, please understand that with limited funds, employees will receive the incentive in the order in which the attached from is completed and submitted to the Department of Personnel. Incentives will be provided until such time as funds are no longer available."

Letters went out to 318 employees. White's office employs 3,650 people.

The idea behind the plan is the same as other retirement incentive offers, Druker said. Older employees who make more money will be induced to leave. The state will save money by filling the vacancies with lower paid employees or leaving the jobs vacant, temporarily or permanently.

The office does not have a savings target it wants to reach through the program, Druker said. Nor has it been determined now many jobs would be left unfilled. If all 318 employees being offered the incentive retired and all of the jobs were immediately filled, Druker said, the office would still save $4 million.

The program does not change pension benefits earned by workers, so it does not add to the state's pension debt.

Last year, secretary of state employees were required to take three unpaid days off because of budget shortfalls. Druker said more furlough days may be required this year, although it is too early to determine that.

Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com.