Governor Signs Cost of Living Adjustment for State Pensioners
Mike Seals - August 6, 2020 10:46 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, today attended the ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 3350, which granted cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for retirees in Oklahoma pension plans, including teachers, firefighters, police, public employees and justices and judges.
The bill was formally signed into law in May and took effect July 1. Ceremonial bill signings allow lawmakers and some of their constituents most affected by legislation to attend.
HB 3350 bases COLAs on the number of years individuals have received retirement benefits from the state. Those retired for five years or more as of July 1 received a 4% increase in monthly pension payments. Those retired at least two years but not five got a 2% increase.
Frix, the principal author of the bill said he’s fought for COLA legislation since being elected in 2016.
“After talking to so many state retirees who have waited so long for an increase in their benefit,” Frix said, “it was gratifying today to see pen put to paper to symbolize the relief this legislation brings for these dedicated public servants.”
Frix pointed out that it has been 12 years since these former state employees received a COLA, even as they’ve seen the cost of health insurance premiums and other living expenses rise.
Frix held an interim study on the COLA last year asking each of the state pension plan managers to respond to whether a COLA would affect the upward trajectory of their plans funded status. Their responses combined with positive actuarial analyses convinced other lawmakers to support the legislation. The measure passed unanimously in the House with vote of 99-0 and in the Senate by a vote of 41-5.
Frix said the COLA represents a fiscally responsible agreement that keeps the state’s pension plans on healthy financial footing. He thanked his fellow lawmakers, including Senate author Roger Thompson, for support and the governor for signing the bill. He also thanked the Fraternal Order of Police, the Oklahoma Firefighters Association, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association, the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association and the Oklahoma Education Association for their input on the bill.