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Panel agrees to block cost-of-living boost

BOISE – Idaho lawmakers reversed course Thursday and voted to pass the same legislation blocking a cost-of-living increase for state retirees that they’d just killed a day earlier.

The vote on Wednesday to kill HCR 42 in the House State Affairs Committee was 13-5, but seven Republican committee members switched on Thursday to pass the bill, 12-4.

Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said an actuarial report e-mailed to him by a citizen suggested the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho fund is in trouble, but the report was for last year and PERSI officials said the fund is sound.

The measure now moves to the full House; it’s on a fast track, because it must pass both houses by next Wednesday to block the 1 percent COLA now scheduled to take effect in March. That affects 33,000 state and local government retirees in Idaho.