COLA Effort Updates

A Message from the PASR Executive Director and Board of Directors

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Thank you to all of you who have started to put in place structures and systems to increase communication to our elected officials concerning a COLA! We know that they are hearing you as we have received commentary from several offices regarding the communications!

The PA General Assembly will begin its new term on January 3rd, and the odds for passing COLA legislation for PSERS annuitants seem to be more favorable than last year due to the new composition of the General Assembly! 

We have had a good start this past fall with many of you making efforts–kudos!–but we need to make this a sustained effort throughout the winter and spring if we are to have any hope of success. So, please keep communicating with your elected officials and encouraging as many others as possible to do the same.

The most common reason provided by legislators for opposing a COLA is that the pension systems have unfunded liabilities and a COLA would add to that unfunded liability. This is understandable, but one the proposals from PASR would add 0.2% to that unfunded liability…yes, just one fifth of one percent!! This proposal, however, would have a significant impact on the well being of annuitants that retired twenty years or more ago and have not received a COLA in two decades (losing over 50% of their purchasing power to inflation). On balance, the added unfunded liability is a small price to pay to help retirees live in diginity, especially with $5 BILLION in the state’s “rainy day” fund!!

The more legislators hear from constituents consistently and with frequency, the more likely PSERS annuitants are to gain the support from more legislators to pass a COLA bill! Find your elected leaders here: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/findyourlegislator/

Again, grassroots efforts are needed, so please adapt the language used and add personal anecdotes to emphasize the need for a COLA—the more unique messages they receive, the better!

If you would like to help in this effort more directly, please contact a local PASR chapter (County chapter information and contact information can be found at www.pasr.org under the “find a chapter” link) or call our office at 717-697-7077. 

If you are a PASR member, please contact your chapter’s LPEC chair or president. If you are not a member of PASR, please consider joining–information about PASR and how to join can be found at www.pasr.org.

 

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.

 

PASR knows that a COLA is long overdue, especially for pre-Act 9 annuitants, and we are making every effort to bring relief to our members in the form of a COLA, and we want to express our gratitude to our members that have been supporting and leading this fight for the past twenty years with a dogged determination. Likewise, we also want to thank those legislators that have been supportive of our efforts, such as Senators Browne, Muth and Kane, because they recognize the contributions of our members to their communities and the Commonwealth and know that the dignity that a COLA would help restore would benefit the state as a whole.

 

NOW IS THE TIME TO ENSURE THAT WE ACT WITH URGENCY TO CONSISTENTLY MAKE OUR VOICES HEARD!! IF NOT NOW, WHEN? IF NOT YOU, WHO? LET’S UNIFY AND LET OUR INDIVIDUAL VOICES BE AMPLIFIED BY EACH OTHER’S VOICES!!

 

Russ Diesinger on the need for a COLA

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

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