With the 2023 legislative session in full swing, advocacy now is focusing on Plan 1 COLA proposals. Notably, HB 1459 is the first permanent COLA bill in memory that has the support of the chair (Democrat Timm Ormsby) and the ranking member (Republican Drew Stokesbary) of the House Appropriations Committee. This means that the bill enjoys bipartisan support, and is the COLA bill that we strongly favor. So far, leadership in the Senate is cool on the proposal, but we continue to lobby senators on this long-term fix to the Plan 1 COLA problem.
In addition to continuing Plan 1 concerns, Plan 2/3 retirees, with their annual COLA capped at 3%, saw the first of what could be several years of declining pension purchasing power. The Plan 2/3 COLA “bank” that will keep the annual COLA at 3% in years when the inflation rate is less than 3% will help—but when? It could take a decade or more to catch up given the likelihood that low rates of inflation are years away. A one-time Plan 2/3 catch-up allocation is in order, but the legislative lift to get that done will be heavy. But, the time for the catch-up ask is now.
Planning has begun for the 76th Annual WSSRA Convention at the Pasco Red Lion, June 4 – 7, 2023. President Brad Beal and the Pasco Convention Planning Committee is in the process of contacting prospective speakers, working with the Red Lion staff on housing and meal details, and planning fun activities. The convention will feature a delegate assembly which will review proposed updates to the organization’s by-laws. For those of you who missed the outstanding 2022 convention in Grand Mound, make plans to visit Pasco this coming in June.
The WSSR-Foundation Trustees and the WSSRA Scholarship Committee have published revised scholarship procedures for spring awards. New application forms (now 100% online) are posted on the website. Please encourage high school seniors interested in an education career (deadline March 1), plus 2023-24 student teachers (deadline April 1), to apply.
WSSRA sponsored the second in a series of 2022-23 member-only topical webinars on Brain Health February 2. See www.wssra.org under the webinar tab for a recording of the 50-minute event. One additional themed webinar will be scheduled in the spring. Watch for registration information in a Constant Contact email in March.
Finally, and to loop back to paragraph #1, thanks for your ongoing legislative advocacy. The grass roots success that we enjoyed at the SCPP this fall is and in the early weeks of the 2023 legislative session is directly linked to members who took the time to write emails, make phone calls, and testify virtually. Great job by all! But we need a similar effort from now through the end of session on April 23.
Enjoy the increasing amount of daylight as we get closer to spring!
Alan Burke, Executive Director