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HARRISBURG, PA (June 16, 2023) — Legislation introduced this week in the state House of Representatives will give 40,000 retired educators and support professionals their first cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in more than two decades, PSEA President Rich Askey said today.
Askey commended Reps. Dan Deasy, D-Allegheny, and Steve Malagari, D-Montgomery, for co-sponsoring House Bills 1415 and 1416. Both bills, while taking slightly different approaches, provide COLAs to educators and other public employees who retired prior to pension enhancements that went into effect under Act 9 of 2001.
Those pre-Act 9 retirees are, on average, 84 years old, and their pensions are less than $20,000 a year. As a result of rising inflation, their real buying power has declined by 40% over the past two decades.
“With each passing year, it gets harder and harder for these retired educators and support professionals to make ends meet,” Askey said. “A long overdue cost-of-living adjustment will ensure that a generation of dedicated people who spent their careers in Pennsylvania’s schools are able to pay their bills and put food on the table.”
From 1968 to 2002, the General Assembly passed cost-of-living legislation every four or five years for retired public workers. The last COLA bill for pre-Act 9 retirees was passed more than 20 years ago in 2002.
Since then, the cost of food has increased 88%, the cost of housing has gone up 85%, and the cost of medical care has gone up 111%. This is why PSEA has made the passage of a COLA for pre-Act 9 retirees a major legislative priority for 2023, Askey said.
“Every year that goes by without a cost-of-living adjustment for retired public workers, their lives get harder, and their money doesn’t go as far,” Askey said. “It is long past time for policymakers to restore the promise of a secure retirement to our retired public servants.”
An affiliate of the National Education Association, PSEA represents about 177,000 active and retired educators and school employees, student teachers, higher education staff, and health care workers in Pennsylvania.