SCPP Approves Plan 1 COLA Recommendation

 

November 17, 2021

WSSRA Membership--

Good news!  On November 16 the Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP) unanimously approved sending a Plan 1 COLA bill to the legislature with a "do pass" recommendation.  This is the first step--and a crucial one--in getting a Plan 1 COLA bill through the 2022 legislature.  Kudos are in order to members of our leadership team (legislative committee, board, unit presidents, coordinating council chairs, lobbyists) and WSSRA members who testified, emailed, called, or wrote to SCPP members and legislators about the need to get a COLA bill started.  This lobbying effort was conducted with collaboration with our advocacy partners—the Retired Public Employee Council and WEA-Retired.

During the meeting, the SCPP heard two COLA proposals. The first—our preference—was a permanent COLA similar to what now is in place for Plan 2 and Plan 3 retirees. The second was a one-time, 3% COLA capped at $44,000 in pension income. Unfortunately, the permanent version was not approved because of its expense (10 times more costly than the one-time 3% COLA), and concerns about extending the established timeline to remove unfunded liability for TRS 1 and PERS 1 by many years.  The one-time, 3% COLA was approved unanimously.

It is important to recognize that the SCPP is not the legislature.  Instead, it is a committee established by the legislature to vet pension proposals and make recommendations about bills to be considered for adoption.  However, SCPP recommendations carry considerable weight. Getting their endorsement for a COLA bill is a strong indication that the topic will get considerable attention in the upcoming session.

For now, after months of making sure the Plan 1 COLA bill did not get lost in SCPP politics, we can celebrate a win.

 

Alan Burke and Peter Diedrick