3% Cola On Hold

SEPTEMBER 1999 - No Problem: White - New
COLA payments for state and teacher retirees remain on hold while the
FY2000 (effective July 1, 1999) state budget negotiations continue
between House and Senate leaders. "However, members can be assured that
the budget delay does not present a problem," said Association
President Ralph White.

As soon as
the budget is passed and signed by Governor Cellucci, the State and
Teacher Retirement Boards will make a three percent COLA adjustment,
retroactive to July, in the pension checks of retirees and survivors
who were on the pension rolls prior to July 1, 1998.

Most
city, town, county and authority retirement boards did increase the
pension checks of their retirees by the 1.3% CPI this July. When the
budget is finally passed, the enabling statutory language in the
"outside section" of the budget will allow these retirement boards to
also pay a 3% COLA retroactive to July.

As
we reported earlier, these retirement boards must first receive
approval from their governing authority (city council, town meeting,
county retirement board advisory council, etc.). We expect that all
retirees and survivors will eventually receive this retroactive
increase, with the exception of members of the Hingham and Easthampton
Retirement Systems whose boards have yet to accept the new 1997 COLA
law.

The $21 billion budget has
been on hold since June 21, while the longest budget negotiations in 24
years continue with no end in sight. Interim budgets have been passed
for July and August and another will be forthcoming in September if an
agreement has not been reached by that time.

Although
delayed budgets have been infrequent in recent years, Beacon Hill
veterans are blasé about the logjam. "I can recall the FY'76 budget not
being signed until November." said Association President Ralph White.
"Like this year there were major issues and neither side wanted to
blink."

But unlike 1975 when the
COLA was an issue in the '76 budget, the COLA is not an issue this
year. "We've already won," said White. "Both sides have agreed on the
three-percent language - that's what the governor will be signing. The
delay is only a very minor inconvenience for our members, most of whom
are well-educated on the legislative process."

White
added that a special notice will be sent to all members as soon as the
budget is signed. "We'll again clarify how the COLA law works, and when
payments can be expected," he said.

"Don't
forget our toll-free recorded hotline which always has the up-to-date
COLA news. Also our website is available for those members who have
internet access capability."

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