Monday, April 18, 2016

Retirement COLA bill passes House committee

Jim Beam
American Press

The House Retirement Committee approved a measure Thursday to provide for a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees and beneficiaries of four state retirement systems.

House Bill 32 moves to the full House. A similar measure passed the Senate and is awaiting a House committee hearing.

The four systems are the Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System, the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana, the Louisiana School Employees’ Retirement System and the State Police Retirement System.

The increase would only be paid on the first $60,000 of a retiree’s or beneficiary’s benefit. The maximum amount would be 1.5 percent of the retiree’s benefit for LASERS and the TRSL, 1.9 percent for LSERS and 2 percent for the SPRS.

H.B. 32 is by Rep. Sam Jones, D-Franklin. His measure would override current law for one year and provide a larger COLA than what recipients would have otherwise received July 1. Each state system board would grant the COLA provided for under H.B. 32 on July 1 of this year. Funds would come from the systems’ experience accounts.

If the balances in the accounts on June 30 are less than the cost of the COLAs, the percentage increase would be reduced accordingly.

Eligible under current law for the COLA are any regular retiree who has received a benefit for at least one year and who has attained at least age 60; any beneficiary of a regular retiree, beneficiary, or both combined have received a benefit for at least one year and if the deceased member would have attained age 60; and any disability retiree or any beneficiary who receives benefits based on the death of a disability retiree if benefits have been received by the retiree, beneficiary or both combined for at least one year.

LASERS has 33,575 regular retirees, 5,834 survivors and beneficiaries, and 2,457 disabled retirees. Total cost of their COLA would be $123.1 million. The TRSL has 58,751 retirees, 6,771 survivors and beneficiaries, and 4,121 disabled retirees. Total coast of their increase would be $224.7 million.
LSERS has 10,146 retirees, 1,662 survivors and beneficiaries, and 331 disabled retirees. Total cost of their increase would be $23.8 million. The SPRS has 696 regular retirees, 335 survivors and beneficiaries, and 62 disabled retirees. The cost of their increase would be $11.2 million.

Sen. Barrow Peacock, R-Bossier City, is sponsor of the similar retirement measure. His Senate Bill 2 was approved 35-0 by the full Senate and is awaiting a hearing in the House Retirement Committee.

Peacock’s measure has one major difference from Jones’ bill. Peacock’s is linked to passage of two other bills. S.B. 5 would require the retirement systems to timely pay administrative costs rather than rolling them over. S.B. 18 would reduce the time for paying off retirement debt from 30 to 20 years.

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