Welcome to today’s edition of This Week in Pensions! 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 the top stories from this week: 

House OKs cost-of-living increase for public pensioners by the Associated Press. It was an exciting week in the state of Oklahoma as the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would grant the first cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to most of the state’s retired public employees in 12 years. The bill, which sailed through on a vote of 99-0, would grant a four percent COLA to roughly 85 percent of the state’s retired public employees, while those who retired between two and five years ago would receive a two percent COLA. The legislation now heads to the state Senate. 

OUR VIEW: Legislators on right track by the Muskogee Phoenix Editorial Board. In this editorial for the Muskogee Phoenix newspaper in Oklahoma, the Editorial Board writes that they approve of the Oklahoma House of Representatives passage of a COLA for most of the state’s retired public employees. “Imagine going 12 years without a raise,” the Editorial Board writes. “That’s a big sacrifice, and nobody asked them if they were willing to do without. It’s hard enough for retirees to get by. With the cost of everything going up, it’s likely there are lots of things they can’t afford to buy.” 

Reforms to pension plan for university employees passes through House by Jacqueline Pitts. Pitts writes about the passage of House Bill 613 in the Kentucky House of Representatives, which would change retirement plans for newly hired employees at the state’s regional universities. The bill, which passed by a 65 – 31 vote, would place newly hired employees into a modified defined contribution plan in which the employees would contribute 9.7 percent and the employer would contribute 10.75 percent. It will now go to the state Senate for consideration. 

The Tough Retirement Challenges of Rural Americans by Chris Farrell. In this article for Next Avenue, Farrell writes about attending the National Institute on Retirement Security’s (NIRS) conference last week on the state of retirement security across the country. Farrell covers NIRS’s latest report, “Fortifying Main Street: The Economic Benefit of Public Pension Dollars in Small Towns and Rural America,” and how public pensions “are one of the few available incentives to attract and keep public workers in rural communities.” For more information on the report and its findings, check out our blog post from this week

Kentucky Retirement’s Executive Director Says Proposed Board Split Will Increase Taxpayer Burden by Steffan Navedo-Perez. In another article from Kentucky, Navedo-Perez interviews David Eager, the Executive Director of the Kentucky Retirement System (KRS), about House Bill 484. The legislation, which passed out of the state House’s Local Government Committee on Monday and is headed for the full state House, would create a Kentucky Public Pension Authority that the KRS board and the board of the County Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) would report to. Eager expressed concern about the proposed cost of the legislation, saying, “Our costs will no doubt increase, which will ultimately have to be borne by taxpayers,” and,“Currently, KRS’s cost of operation is only slightly above its peer public fund universe in spite of the fact that we are much more complex than the average system.” We will do our best to ensure that public pensions are still protected in the Bluegrass State regardless of this development. 

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