Monday, April 6, 2009

Hope for some state retirees

A decision by key legislators to defer pension benefit increases this year was somewhat expected according to state retirement officials.

“We do believe there is at least some hope on the horizon for the retirees who are most below the poverty line,” said Cindy Rougeou, executive director of the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System, called LASERS.

House Retirement Committee Chairman Joel Robideaux, No Party-Lafayette, and Senate Retirement Committee Chairman Butch Gautreaux, D-Morgan City, said in a joint letter that they would not support or sponsor any legislation during this session to grant COLAs for members of LASERS and the state teachers retirement system, called TRSL.

Rougeou and TRSL Executive Director Maureen Westgard both said they understand the legislators’ decision because of the state law restriction and the economic market conditions.

Rep. Jean Doerge, D-Minden, said she is filing a bill that would allow some longtime retirees with at least 30 years of service to receive at least $1,200 a month, or 14,400 per year.

Robideaux and Gautreaux both said they would be supportive of that idea.

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