Over the last few weeks, we’ve been updating readers on where cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) bills are all across the country. Many retired public employees haven’t seen a COLA in over a decade. As the price of medicine, groceries, and other essential items increase, retired public employee benefits have stayed stagnant causing them undue harm.
We’ve spoken to many retired public employees who are really suffering. We’ve heard stories like the retired teacher in Oklahoma who needs to choose which medication to get each month because she can’t afford all of them. This is a real problem. So how have state legislatures acted this year?
COLA bills in progress
Texas – SB 12 / HB 9 — Earlier this month, the House Pensions, Investments and Financial Services Committee substituted the Senate’s version of TRS version with their own. The committee substitute, offered by Rep. Dr. Bonnen, is identical to the committee substitute to HB 9. Compared to the Senate’s original plans, the committee substitute offers a much more generous “13th check” and greater state contribution rates. The committee substitute was voted out with 9 ayes, 0 nays. The bill is now scheduled to be heard by the House.
New Hampshire – A 1.5% COLA was passed by the House of Representatives 219-150. The bill will now be considered by the Senate.
Rejected COLA bills this year
Kansas – The Kansas legislature rejected HB2100 this year, which would have provided a 4% COLA to retired public employees. As mentioned previously, it has been twenty-one years since retirees have seen a COLA in the state.
Wyoming – Although the Speaker of the House introduced and backed HB314, a bill that would provide a two-time “13th check” to retired public employees, the bill failed in the House. It has been twelve years since retired public employees have received a COLA in Wyoming
Oklahoma – HB 2304, the COLA bill, passed the House by a vote of 98-3 on Monday 3/11. This week, the Senate Retirement and Insurance Committee opted to pursue an actuarial study on a 2 percent COLA, instead of the House’s version of 4 percent. The actuarial analysis will be completed by December 1st of this year, so the legislature can pursue a COLA next year.
New Hampshire and Texas have taken COLAs for retired public employees seriously. While several other legislatures decided to pass on providing adequate COLAs to their retired public employees, our coalitions in those states will push vigorously for their passage next year.