Baton Rouge — I join the officers and the members of LRTA’s executive board in expressing dismay by, and extreme disappointment with Governor Jindal’s veto of House Bill No. 42. This bill was the most important bill to be considered during the 2015 Regular Session for not only retired educators who are members of the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana, but for retirees of the other three state retirement systems: The Louisiana State Employees’ Retirement System, the Louisiana School Employees’ Retirement System, and the Louisiana State Police Retirement System. House Bill No. 42 would have provided those who met eligibility requirements by July 1, 2015 a 1.5% Permanent Benefit Increase (PBI, or, as we use to call them, COLA) beginning on July 1, 2015. The increase would have been provided by funds already set aside by the four retirement systems for this specific purpose.
This legislation received the two-thirds majority vote required by both the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass. It was then sent to Governor Jindal’s desk only to have him balk because of an implied impact on our state’s bond rating in New York. Despite all the efforts the legislature put into balancing the budget, it appears the bond rating is still in jeopardy, with, or without, the PBI/COLA.
Our hopes for a PBI/COLA have been dashed. Retirees will most likely not be eligible to receive a PBI/COLA next year on July 1, 2016 because the provisions of law do not allow the payment of a benefit increase in years when there is no inflation. The Consumer Price Index (CPI-U), one of the factors used to determine whether or not a PBI can be paid, will most likely be negative on June 30. Many individuals expressed their interest about implementation of House Bill No. 42 on July 1 of 2015 for that very reason. LRTA recognizes the importance of staying involved in the decision making process that occurs around important issues addressed by those who are make decisions on behalf of others. The Louisiana Retired Teachers Association intends to do just that.
James T. Stewart
President, Louisiana Retired Teachers Association