When Rick Scott, the disgraced former CEO of Hospital Corporation of America, won election as governor of Florida in 2010, he began making good on a campaign promise to slash the size and cost of government in a state that has been hard hit by the recession and collapsing home prices. Part of his plan, a reduction in state and county government workers' pension and health care benefits, was approved for the most part by the state legislature in May.

This led to a rush by employees nearing retirement age to get out early to avoid having current benefits reduced. The deadline for the reductions in benefits was set to take effect on July 1. The outcome: The number of people opting for early retirement doubled in the first six months of 2011 compared to the year-ago period.

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