AP NEWS

Retired public pensioners to get first pay raise in 12 years

May 21, 2020 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday signed into law a bill giving most retired school teachers, firefighters and other public workers their first pension increase in 12 years.

The bill gives a 4% cost-of-living allowance, or COLA, to about 85% of public retirees. Under the bill’s tiered approach, those who retired between two and five years ago would see a 2% boost, while those retired for less than two years receive no increase.

“I told Oklahomans on the campaign trail that I would work to get this across the finish line, and I am delivering on my promise,” Stitt said in a statement.

Public pensioners have complained to lawmakers for years that medical insurance, prescription drugs and utility costs have all increased dramatically in the last decade, while their retirement income remained stagnant.

Oklahoma’s pension systems were among the worst-funded in the nation about 15 years ago, when lawmakers approved a new law requiring any COLAs to be fully funded. That change improved the health of the pension systems but also left retirees without a pay hike to cover rising costs.