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Eye On Boise

State retirees would lose COLA, under resolution introduced today

Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, explains his legislation to block state retirees from receiving a scheduled 1 percent cost-of-living increase in the coming year on equity grounds, because active state employees are suffering furloughs and other cutbacks. The bill was introduced Monday in the House State Affairs Committee. (Betsy Russell)
Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, explains his legislation to block state retirees from receiving a scheduled 1 percent cost-of-living increase in the coming year on equity grounds, because active state employees are suffering furloughs and other cutbacks. The bill was introduced Monday in the House State Affairs Committee. (Betsy Russell)

Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, proposed a resolution this morning to block state retirees from receiving a scheduled 1 percent cost of living increase. The House State Affairs Committee agreed to introduce the bill, but balked at a proposal to send it straight to the full House without a hearing. "I would urge the committee to slow down," said Rep. Anne Pasley-Stuart, D-Boise. "This does not come out of the general fund. ... This deserves a full hearing - we are talking about the retirement of the employees of Idaho. This is serious stuff, if you're going to freeze their retirement when the funds are there." Her substitute motion easily carried, to introduce the bill but bring it back for a full hearing. Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, said he hopes to schedule the hearing as soon as Wednesday.

Lake said his reason for proposing the move was that current state employees are facing furloughs and pay cuts. "It's strictly an equity issue," he said. "Why in the world should retired people be getting a raise, when the people paying the bills, active employees, are going to be paying the bill?" However, PERSI officials said active state employees likely will see little change either way as a result of the retirement COLA. Lake said his bill would override the PERSI board's decision to grant a 1 percent COLA to retirees in the coming year. Instead, he said, "They will just be kept equal." To take effect, it must pass both houses of the Legislature by Feb. 24th, the 45th day of the legislative session - thus the rush.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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