Welcome to this week’s edition of This Week in Pensions! This is the news you need to know in the fight for a secure retirement. 

Before you dive into our top stories from this week, check out some stories of public employees helping their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are the top stories from this week: 

Public Retirees Want WY Lawmakers to Follow OK Lead on Inflation Adjustment by Eric Galatas. In Wyoming, it’s been 12 years since the state’s retired public employees have received a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). In this article for Public News Service, Galatas wrote about how lawmakers in Oklahoma passed a 4% COLA for the state’s retired public employees this year thanks to the advocacy of public employees. These individuals shared their stories of how they could no longer afford everyday necessities due to how long it had been since they had received a COLA, which educated lawmakers on the importance of granting one. Sabra Tucker, the executive director of the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association, said, “When you have an 80-year-old retired teacher with a master’s degree tell you she’s having to wear her coat in the house instead of turning up her heat because she can’t afford to pay her heating bill, people are being impacted.” In Wyoming, a COLA would go a long way towards boosting retired public employees and stimulating the state’s economy, as “every dollar in pension benefits generates $1.22 in state and local economic activity.” 

State treasurer races to determine future of retirement offerings by Brian Croce. NPPC’s executive director, Bridget Early, was quoted in this story in Pensions & Investments about elections this November that could affect public pensions in different states. In Oregon, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Vermont, for example, voters will decide who their next state treasurer will be. There are also 11 gubernatorial elections across the country, and while none of them have explicitly featured public pensions, these governors (along with the state treasurers) are critical influences on managing their state’s public pension systems. Early commented that while “while many of the pension funds’ investment portfolios recovered from the spring crisis, policymakers still need to practice funding discipline. If they don’t, they could harm their state’s credit rating, increasing the state’s costs for other projects.” She also remarked that “this is a moment when we need our policymakers to be brave, just as our essential public employees have been these past six months.”

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