Rep. Greg Bonnen, House Appropriations Committee Chair, has filed a bill providing ongoing retiree benefit increases, conditional on the health of the retirement fund. Though many bills have already been filed to provide a COLA or a 13th check to school retirees, HB 600 may be considered the likely vehicle for a benefit increase given the prominence of its author. That does not necessarily mean that the final product will include the specific provisions below.
As it is currently constructed, the bill would be dependent on passage of a constitutional amendment (in separate legislation, requiring a vote of the public).
HB 600 includes several major provisions:
- A cost-of-living adjustment beginning January 2024. The amount varies depending on the employee's retirement date, as follows:
- A 6% increase for those retiring before Jan. 1, 2004;
- A 4% increase for those retiring on/after Jan. 1, 2004, but before Jan. 1, 2014;
- A 2% increase for those retiring on/after Jan. 1, 2014 but before Jan. 1, 2021.
- An ongoing COLA beginning in 2028, conditional on the health of the pension fund. Whether the COLA would be paid and how much would vary depending on the average investment return over the previous five years, but would be capped at 2%.
- A one-time supplemental check of $5,000, payable no later than February 2024, to retirees who are at least 70 years old (as of the month prior to the payment). This payment is conditional upon a finding by the TRS Board that the Legislature appropriated sufficient funding.
- An increase in the amount that the state and active employees are contributing to the pension fund. Currently, active members are contributing 8% of their salary, and that amount was scheduled to increase to 8.25% in September 2023. The bill would bump the 2023 increase to 9%. Similarly, the state's contribution would increase from 8% to 9%.