Welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Pensions! As we do most weeks, we have gathered the best stories about pensions and retirement security from the previous week. This is the news you need to know in the fight for a secure retirement.

Here are this week’s top stories:

  • Vasquez: Public pensions boost Arizona’s local economies by Dora Vasquez: the Executive Director of the Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans writes to Pinal Central about the importance of pensions to Arizona’s economy. Retired public employees support local communities across Arizona through the spending of their pension benefits. Vasquez writes, “90.7 percent of benefit recipients live right here in Arizona. Every time a retiree spends their money at the grocery store, coffee shop, hardware store or local restaurants, we are boosting our local economy.”
  • Frix’s COLA Bill for State Retirees Passes House Floor by Jamison Faught: on Monday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation granting a 4% COLA by a margin of 98-3! This strong showing of support for the legislation indicates just how important it is for retired public employees to receive a COLA — something they have not received in a decade. The bill now moves to the state senate where it faces a difficult, but not impossible road to passage.
  • ‘We’re Not Stupid’: Texas Teachers Take on Dan Patrick and the Legislature over Dismal Education Funding by Justin Miller: after years of funding cuts, stagnant pay, and rising retiree healthcare costs, Texas teachers are fighting back, pushing the state legislature to dramatically increase the resources devoted to public education. Among the issues they are fighting for, “they want the state to offer relief to retired teachers facing exorbitant health care costs and diminishing pension benefits.”
  • Letter: State is failing retiring educators by Bruce Boyer: a retired science teacher in Washington State writes about the need for a COLA for retired teachers. Boyer writes, “I retired in 2004 after 34 years. Since then, I have received one cost-of-living adjustment of 1.5 percent, which does not come close to the rate of inflation we have experienced. According to the Department of Labor, I have lost over 27 percent earning power since retiring.”
  • Op-Ed: NJ’s Pensions Are Not Expensive, So Let’s Stop Pretending They Are by Brian Rock: a social studies teacher in New Jersey highlights the difference between the Normal Cost of public pensions and the unfunded liability of those plans. The Normal Cost is the actual amount it costs to fund the benefits earned in a given year. The unfunded liability represents the debt owed by the plan, due to, in New Jersey’s case, years of underfunding by the state. Rock points out that politicians should be clear that pensions are not expensive, but paying off the state’s debt is.

Be sure to check back next week for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!