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:
Competing studies to look at Oklahoma state retirees’ pensions by Carmen Forman. In a big win for Oklahoma retirees, who are in desperate need of a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a competing COLA bill in a rebuke to the State Senate. Earlier this year, we wrote about Oklahoma retirees and their push for a 4 percent COLA. House lawmakers heard their call and passed a 4 percent COLA 98-3, but the Senate decided to delay a COLA until next year, passing a bill requiring an actuarial study on a 2 percent COLA. Yesterday, the Oklahoma House passed a bill that would perform an actuarial analysis on a 4 percent COLA. Although public employee retirees in the state have to wait until next year, they now have a better chance of getting their much-needed, and deserved, 4 percent COLA.
Bevin’s latest pension proposal faces criticism for high costs to the state by Deborah Yetter. In March, we wrote about HB 358, a bill that would violate the inviolable contract for public employees. After passing the State Senate and State House, Governor Matt Bevin, in a surprise move, vetoed the bill. In his veto message, he proclaimed that he would call a special session to address pensions and this week, his proposed legislation was revealed to lawmakers. The plan allows quasi-government agencies, such as health centers and rape crisis centers to either exit Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS) with a lump sum payment or buy their way out with installment payments over 30 years – shifting costs to the drastically underfunded KRS. The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy found that the plan would still be very costly for individual agencies and would cost the retirement system $827 million over 30 years.
Texas teachers closer to getting a boost from the state by Chris Butera. In April the Texas House of Representatives passed their version of SB 12 that would increase state contributions by 2 percent over the next five years to the Teachers Retirement System. The bill also provides a “13th check” to teacher retirees up to $2,400. The Senate’s version of the bill only provides a “13th check” up to $500. The House version of the bill now heads back to the Senate for approval or to a conference committee to hash out the details.
Be sure to check back next week for the latest news in the fight for a secure retirement!