Friday, May 24, 2024

SCPP Adopts Ongoing COLA Study Timeline

SCPP Adopts Ongoing COLA Study Timeline

On Tuesday, April 16, the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP) laid out a timeline to study and recommend a proposal to restore an automatic ongoing cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for PERS 1 and TRS 1 retirees. Since 2010, PERS 1 and TRS 1 are the only retirement systems managed by Washington State to not receive automatic ongoing COLAs. Thanks to a bill that RPEC helped pass in 2023, the SCPP is required to develop a proposal and recommend it to the legislature by the end of this calendar year.

On May 21, the committee will receive an initial briefing from staff and determine the scope of the research that will be undertaken. At the June 18 and July 16 meetings, the committee will have policy discussions and address questions that will help frame some of the possible outcomes. On September 17, the Office of the State Actuary will present actuarial analysis that will estimate the costs associated with proposals.

Ahead of April 16 meeting, RPEC joined Washington Education Association, Washington State School Retirees Association, and Public School Employees of Washington in signing a letter to the SCPP requesting that PERS 1 and TRS 1 retirees receive the same ongoing COLA benefit that other public employee pension plans receive.

The SCPP opted to delay committee officer elections until May, as no eligible members were prepared to serve as committee chair. Statute requires that the next committee chair be one of the four senators on the committee, as a member of the House is the current chair. Although not required by statute, the committee traditionally passes chairpersonship between Democrats and Republicans, meaning that the next chair will likely be a Senate Republican. It is possible that one of the two Senate Republicans on the committee will step down to allow an available Senator to serve as chair.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Representative Timm Ormsby (D, Spokane) stepped down from the SCPP and was replaced by Representative Nicole Macri (D, Seattle). All other members returned to the committee, including retiree representative and RPEC member Bev Hermanson.

RPEC and a coalition of other public employee retiree groups will work closely with the SCPP this interim to advocate for the best possible ongoing COLA proposal for retirees. SCPP materials and meeting login information can be accessed via the SCPP website.

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