COLA Effort Updates

Update 5/1/24:

PASR is continuing to have discussions with PA legislators about a Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) for PSERS and SERS annuitants in 2024. 

We, and our coalition partners, are making progress in talks with the PA Senate leadership and legislators that are crucial to the budget process. We continue to be cautiously optimistic that a COLA, in the form of HB 1416, will be enacted this year. PASR NEEDS YOUR HELP TO MAKE THIS GOAL A REALITY!!

Please send your PA Senator and other Legislative leaders a message (link to a message is below) urging them to not forget about retirees that have been ravaged by inflation yet have not received an increase in their pensions in over two decades!

PLEASE ALSO CONSIDER SUBMITTING AN EDITORIAL TO YOUR LOCAL MEDIA OUTLETS TO INCREASE AWARENESS OF THIS ISSUE AND TO INCREASE PRESSURE ON LEGISLATORS TO PASS THIS LEGISLATION.

Your message will be sent to: Your state Senator (based upon your address); Joe Pittman (Republican Majority Leader of the Senate); Scott Martin (Republican Senator and Chair of the Appropriations Committee); Kim Ward (Republican Senator and President Pro Tempore); Vincent Hughes (Democratic Senator and Minority Chair of the Appropriations Committee); Jay Costa (Democratic Senator and Minority Leader); and Cris Dush (Republican Senator and Chair of the State Government Committee)

You can edit the body of the message below to include any personal information about your need for a COLA or to otherwise make the message more personalized.

You will not, however, be able to edit the salutation, as that will be automatically filled in when you submit your letter and it will automatically be sent to your Senator and key leaders in the PA budget process. 

Please use this link to send a message: https://www.pasr.org/legislative-form/?id=5

YOU DO NOT NEED TO ENTER A MEMBERSHIP ID

Update 2/23/24:

PASR continues to push for a Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) for PSERS annuitants, but we definitely need your help to get it done this year!

The PA House passed HB 1416, but the Senate State Government Committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Cris Dush, has refused to bring the bill up for a vote. As such we are working to get a COLA to be part of the budget process this spring and summer, but we need you, as constituents, to keep the pressure on your Senators and Representatives. A COLA will not come to fruition if legislators don’t hear from their constituents that a COLA is a priority.

You can support this effort by sending them a message here: https://www.pasr.org/legislative-form/?id=3 (You don’t need to fill in your member number, especially if you are not a PASR member)
This message will ask them to support HB 1416 and SB 864. SB 864 provides a COLA to everyone every three years that is based on the inflation rate. HB 1416 provides a COLA to those who retired prior to July 1, 2001 and did not receive the 25% increase in their pension that Act 9 provided to those retiring after this date. Both bills provide a COLA to PSERS and SERS annuitants.
In the message is a list of talking points that you can use if you would like to call or visit your elected representative as well, and we hope that you would consider taking such actions in addition to sending this message.

The message will go to the following legislators that will play a crucial role in the budgeting process:
Senator Joe Pittman (Majority Leader), Sen. Kim Ward (President Pro Tem), Sen. Cris Dush (Chair of the State Government Committee), Sen. Scott Martin (Chair of the Appropriations Committee), Sen. Jay Costa (Minority Leader), Sen. Vince Hughes (Minority Chair of Appropriations Committee), Sen. Amanda Cappelletti (Minority Chair of State Government Committee), and to your own state Senator.
The House passed HB 1416 with every Democrat and 38 Republicans voting in favor of it, so there is bipartisan support!! Senate Republicans are, however, more reluctant to support COLA legislation, so we really need to ensure that they hear from us! Likewise, we want to ensure that COLA legislation remains a priority for Democrats in both chambers as they haggle over items in the budget. Consequently, it is of the utmost importance they they hear from you throughout the spring, so please contact your elected officials and urge anyone you know that supports this effort to also contact their elected officials.
Thank you for all that you have already done and thank you in advance for acting to communicate with the members of the General Assembly this spring!

Update: 1/11/24:

A Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for retired educators and state workers has not been granted by the PA General Assembly in over 20 years! The PA House did pass HB 1416 which would provide a COLA of between 15 and 25% to those who retired prior to July 1, 2001, but the PA Senate has failed to act on this bill! HB 1416 is currently sitting in the Senate State Government Committee, which is chaired by Senator Dush. Consequently, PASR is asking that you take a moment to send Senator Dush, and your own PA Senator, a brief message asking him/them to put HB 1416 to a vote in his Committee so that the entire Senate may vote to approve it as well so that these annuitants can receive some relief from financial distress. The population effected is, on average, over 80 years old and receives less than $18,000 per year. If you are willing to send a message to Senator Dush urging him to act to move this COLA legislation, please click the link below. The link will ask for your basic information and will automatically send an email to Senator Dush and your own Senator. You can edit the content of the message if you would like to do so.

Thank you for your support!!

Please click here: https://www.pasr.org/legislative-form/?id=2

Important Article:  Aon to pay $1.5 million to settle SEC charges for misleading PennPSERS

 

Update: 11/15/23:

The PA House passed HB 1416 providing a COLA of 15%-24.5% for PSERS and SERS annuitants that retired prior to 2002 and haven’t received a COLA since 2002. Please help us to urge the PA Senate to pass this legislation to bring some small relief to these retirees who depend on their pension to be able to pay their basic bills!

Thank you!

 

The PA House of Representatives voted to pass HB 1416, which would provide a COLA to pre-Act 9 retirees! This is one more step closer to getting the only COLA since 2002! We have to urge our senators to pass it as well, but before we get to that process, we are asking that you send a note of gratitude to your state representative who voted in favor of HB 1416.

We will need their support in the future when we continue to push to get everyone a COLA. They will support that effort if they are convinced that their constituents are paying attention and supportive of such votes. As such, please take a moment to use our pre-filled letter to send a note to your representative thanking them for supporting HB 1416.

You can edit the message to make it your own, but the greeting cannot be changed as it will automatically fill in your representative’s name and automatically send it to that representative’s email.

 

This explores the possibility of passing HB 1416 in the Senate along with arguments for and against its passage:

Pa. House passes cost-of-living adjustment for pre-2001 state, school retirees

Other reads on the House passing HB 1416:

Pa. weighing first pension boost in 2 decades for elder teacher, government retirees

Pa. House approves $1.8B more for retirees, Senate leader encourages cautious approach

Pa. House passes cost-of-living adjustment for pre-2001 state, school retirees; bill moves to Senate

Update: 10/18/23:

Senator Katie Muth has not only introduced two bills (SB 951 and 952) that would provide pre Act 9 retirees a COLA in their pensions, but she has also introduced a comprehensive COLA that was drafted by PASR, SB 864. SB 864 would provide a one time COLA to pre Act 9 retirees of between 15 and 24.5%, but it would also provide an automatic COLA that is determined by the inflation rate to all PSERS annuitants every three years! This bill does provide for limits on the automatic COLA, such as limiting it to a 7% maximum, to help control the cost to the state government who would fund the entire COLA so that school districts do not need to pay more and further squeeze their budgets. There are other limits as well, but this would be the first ever automatic COLA in PA history! PASR does not want to get everyone’s hopes up as the odds of the General Assembly adopting this bill are very small, but we thought it would be worth sharing, and, who know….crazier things have happened!

 

Update 3/21/23:

Below is PASR’s written testimony to the Democratic Joint Policy Committee. Two of our members submitted written testimony and one testified in person to the Committee. Senators Muth and Kane and Representatives Deasy and Malagari were the driving forces in getting this hearing organized.

Public school workers say ‘dignified’ retirement now out of reach

PA Democrats push support for COLA increase for retirees

Democratic lawmakers push for cost of living adjustment

WATCH the Joint Policy Hearing here

 

How to locate and contact your State elected officials:

As a member of PASR, we humbly request that you enthusiastically join our effort to make your voices heard! Please reach out individually and coordinate with your chapter LPEC Chair and/or Chapter President to enhance your own efforts.

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

If you do not know who currently represents you, your address will identify that person.

Once you locate your state rep – here are the various ways to contact them:

  1. Phone call to the legislator’s local office.
  2. Phone call to the legislator’s Harrisburg office.
  3. Personal visit to legislator’s local office.
  4. Email or write a letter.
  5. Communicate with them on their social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.
  6. Write editorials for your local news sources.

 

For “Talking Points” to use in your communications, please reach out to our office at 717-697-7077 or pasr@pasr.org. We have a list of themes for you to use. Pick one that is comfortable for you, or you can use a basic suggested message.

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When Communicating with Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly

  1. Please do not be overly “aggressive” or demanding in asking for support for a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). Being respectful is a better methodology.
  2. Please mention that we (PASR) recognize the challenges that lawmakers/elected officials have each year when it comes time to pass the state budget. We understand that this is not a simple or easy request, and it will cost money.
  3. Please highlight your personal situation and need for a COLA in light of the 75% inflation since 2000 that has gobbled up your purchasing power.
  4. Others have seen increases since 2002, but not public school retirees who so richly deserve to be able to live a dignified retirement.

 

The positive economic impact on Pennsylvania of pension payments made to retired state workers and more evidence that a COLA for PSERS annuitants would benefit everyone if only we could get the General Assembly to listen! Please visit https://www.nirsonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/pensionomics2021_pa.pdf for more information.

As part of PASR’s continuing effort to get our members a COLA and provide current and relevant information, this page is designated to do just that.  Below you will find links to important recent news articles that may affect the process of receiving a COLA. 

PASR Links

Links to PASR information regarding legislative updates

PASR L/PEC Brochure

Donate to PASR L/PEC Efforts

PSERS Links

PA State Links

Pension Research Links

Interesting COLA/Pension Stories