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:
Will Gov. Bevin’s Special Legislative Session On Pensions Happen? by Ryland Barton: After vetoing the harmful pension bill that passed out of the legislature this session, eyes are on Governor Matt Bevin to see if he will call a special session before July 1, when state agencies’ contribution rates are set to increase. Governor Bevin has repeatedly threatened to call a special session for pensions, and called one late last year that ended up being adjourned by unhappy lawmakers less than 24 hours after it began. Kentucky taxpayers shell out around $66,000 for every day of a special session.
Senators kick COLA increase can down the road by Arnold Hamilton: The Oklahoma legislature punted a bill that would have granted a much-needed cost-of-living adjustment for Oklahoma’s retired public employees. The last time Oklahoma retirees saw a COLA increase was 11 years ago. “Oklahoma wouldn’t be in the unconscionable position of starving its now-retired, career public servants had lawmakers not slashed about $2 billion in income taxes this century,” writes Hamilton. “They also doled out enough tax credits and business incentives to drain another $1 billion or so from state coffers – money sorely needed for schools, roads, health care and, yes, even retirees’ COLAs.”
First responders hope for change in state retirement system by Neal Embry: A 2012 Alabama law that requires first responders to wait until 56 to retire along with lowering their pension benefits is threatening at least one municipality’s ability to ensure public safety as well as recruit and retain qualified officers. Two police officers have already left Vestavia Hills for positions with better benefits. Defined benefit pensions are crucial when it comes to retention, and especially important for ensuring public safety: “When officers or firefighters leave, it’s not like filling jobs in other fields, Rary said. Police officers aren’t ready for street work until after a year of training, he said. Jackson said the problem for firefighters is the inability to transfer from one department to another without having to go to the bottom of the ladder and start their career over.”
Be sure to check back next week for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!