If you have been watching the news, you have most likely heard that the Teacher Walk-out has been called to an end. The past two weeks have been filled with emotion. A teacher pay raise was passed along with some additional funding for education through the funding formula.
Update on HB 2985—COLA bill. On two occasions the past two weeks, a motion has been made on the House floor by Rep. Scott Inman to suspend the rules and consider HB 2985, a COLA for retirees. Both times the motion was voted down along party lines.
On Monday, April 2nd, HB 1340—the STIPEND bill, was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Retirement and Insurance committee. The bill was laid over by the chair, Rep. Bill Brown. The following Monday, April 9th, the bill was heard in committee and was recommended “Do Pass” by a vote of 6-1. Yes votes were Senators Leewright, Paxton, Pederson, Rosino, Quinn, Treat. Senator Brown was a “no” vote. He is opposed to granting any benefit until the TRS is funded at 80%.
Senator Roland Pederson is hoping to amend the bill to create a minimum benefit for those that have been retired an extended length of time, possibly greater than 20 years. We will send out more information about the amendment as it becomes available. In its current form, HB 1340 would provide a one-time stipend to retirees who have been retired at least 5 years. The maximum benefit would be $1000. If you would like to relay your opinion on the bill, please call your state senator. The main switchboard number is 405-524-0126.
Update on SB 1569—apportionment reform. This bill would lower the contribution to TRS in the event of a revenue shortfall declared by the state excise board. This bill passed out of the Senate a few weeks ago, and is now sitting in the House appropriations and budget committee. At this point, we have been told the bill will not be heard. We are keeping an ever diligent watch, however.
The remainder of the legislative session could become quite interesting. Stay tuned!