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Labor Committee Recommends Increasing COLAs for Retired Public Employees

Andy O’Brien
16 Mar, 2023
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The Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee has unanimously recommended increasing cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for retirees in the Maine Public Employees Retirement System (MePERS), including teachers and state employees.

In a report to the Legislature's Appropriations Committee, the committee expressed "frustration and disappointment” with Governor Janet Mills’ administration for not addressing pensions for retirees in this Budget, who are falling further and further behind due to cuts the LePage administration made over a decade ago. 

“The Committee feels that this COLA situation is a significant enough problem that a solution should have been proposed in the biennial budget,” the committee wrote to the Legislature’s budget writing panel. “The committee has concerns that little to nothing has been done to rectify this longstanding injustice.”

The committee noted that while the Social Security beneficiaries began receiving an 8.7 percent COLA starting in January, Maine state retirees who rely solely on their MainePERS pensions are only receiving a 3 percent COLA on about $24,0000, regardless of how much their annual benefit is. The committee also recommended passage two bills, LDs 111 and 112, which would improve retiree health care benefits.

We want to especially thank Labor & Housing co-chairs Sen. Mike Tipping (D-Penobscot) and Rep Amy Roeder (D-Bangor) as well as committee members Rep. Dick Bradstreet (R-Vassalboro) and Rep. Gary Drinkwater (R-Milford) for leading the committee to a unanimous bipartisan agreement.

The Appropriations Committee will soon consider these proposals as it crafts the next two-year budget.