Retired state employees received good news last week after the Senate and House came together to pass a cost-of-living adjustment, also known as a COLA.
It’s been 12 years since our retirees have received a COLA, although inflation has increased nearly 20 percent in this same time frame. The increasing costs of health care, food and other necessities have placed a burden on those with a fixed income. Our retired state employees like teachers, firefighters and police officers dedicated their lives to serving their fellow Oklahomans, so this is the right move to ensure they are well taken care of.
The COLA is adjusted based on how long a person has been in retirement. Anyone who has been retired five or more years as of July 31, 2020, will receive a four percent adjustment, while those retired two to five years will receive a two percent adjustment. Those less than two years into retirement will not receive a COLA. Although this takes a stair step approach, about 85 percent of our state retirees will receive the four percent adjustment.
The COLA will apply to state retirees that have paid into the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System, Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System, Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges, Teachers’ Retirement System of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System.
The governor now must sign the bill in order for the COLA to go into effect later this year. I sincerely hope he approves this measure so our retirees can receive a much needed and long-awaited adjustment.
I’d also like to remind all of you of the mental health resources available to you. I’ve heard from friends, family, neighbors and constituents who have felt the strain of the constant news cycle, worry and isolation throughout this pandemic. If you’re experiencing emotional distress related to COVID-19, please call the state’s disaster distress helpline at 1-800-985-5990.
Finally, I’d like to send congratulatory wishes to all of our 2020 graduates. Stay positive, stay strong, and go change the world. I know it’s not the graduation you envisioned, but please know that your family, friends and communities are very proud of your accomplishments. Once again, congratulations! I can’t wait to see what you all achieve in the next phase of your life.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you at the Capitol. If there is anything I can help you with, please call me at 405-521-5600 or shoot me an email at Allison.Ikley-Freeman@oksenate.gov.