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:

Texas’ retired teachers served our children. They deserve a pension that serves them by Louis Malfaro. Louis Malfaro, President of the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers and Chairman of the Texas Pension Coalition, writes about the necessity of a COLA for retired teachers.  This year, the Texas legislature is debating giving retired teachers a 13th check, which would provide some breathing room for retired teachers in the state who haven’t received a COLA in years. Malfaro states, “The average TRS retiree receives a little less than $2,100 per month in pension payments. A 13th payment would give many retirees room to breathe for the first time in years. It might mean being able to afford medications and food or being able to fully cover utilities and rent. Retirees saw their health care costs skyrocket this year, and this payment would begin to bring some relief.”

Is living in Alaska enough to keep teachers long-term by Scott Gross. As we’ve written before, Alaska abandoned their pension plans for public employees after a $2.5 billion unfunded liability error was made by an actuarial firm. In Gross’ article, State Senator Jesse Kiehl states, “that under the current retirement system in Alaska, teachers are taking their expertise and full value of the account to another state where they can earn a pensions.”

California’s school pension funding plan is working by Grant Boyken. In his opinion piece, Grant Boyken, public affairs executive officer for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), criticizes a recent push by EdSource to switch the teachers’ pension system to a defined contribution plan.  Boyken writes “a defined-benefit pension is the most cost-effective and secure way to provide retirement benefits for California’s educators.” He continues, noting that Michigan and West Virginia are prime examples of why switching public employees to a defined contribution plan is a bad idea.

Gov. Kate Brown’s new plan to stabilize PERS facing backlash by Amanda Rose. Last week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown surprised allies by introducing a proposal to reduce the pension benefits of 175,000 state, local, and school employees covered by PERS. ,  The proposal comes as a surprise since Oregon’s system is one of the highest funded in the nation. Brown’s plan drew the ire of the Oregon Education Association who called the move an “unbelievable betrayal,” given how public sector teachers make 22 percent less than their private sector counterparts.

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