February 27, 2023

Bring retiree COLA in line with inflation; apply it to pension base

MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member Rob Peale, shown at center last year with fellow MSEA-SEIU retiree members, testified Feb. 10 before the Maine Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and the Labor and Housing Committee in support of fully funding a retiree cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Below is his abridged testimony:

By Rob Peale
MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member

My name is Rob Peale and I am a Readfield resident. I am also a retired State of Maine employee. I am asking for your support to fully fund a 9.1% COLA for MainePERS retirees as of September 2022 when the annual COLA for 2022 was applied. This should also include a 9.1% increase in the pension base to which the COLA applies. Adding the money to the base will be much more helpful to public employees over the long term than the Governor’s proposal of a one-time payment directly to public employee retirees.

In agreeing to work for state government, I was promised a far stronger pension than I have today, and it’s falling further, and more quickly, behind the increasing cost of living. Bringing the 2022 COLA in line with current inflation and applying it to the base will be a significant help to all public employees even if the current COLA cap of 3% continues to be applied in the future. The current budget surplus presents an opportunity for the current Legislature and governor to make some small amends for past actions even though the improvement will not come close to making public employees whole.

Please fully fund a 2022 9.1% COLA for retired public employee pensions, including a 9.1% increase in the base. I also ask that you be open to additional changes that will help retirees recover additional pension benefits promised to us.

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