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Eye On Boise

Retirees: ‘The funds we have worked all our lives for’

Retired state and local government employees participate in a press conference Monday on the Statehouse steps, in a cold, biting wind; they're protesting HCR 42, the measure to block a scheduled 1 percent cost-of-living increase for state retirees scheduled to take effect next month. (Betsy Russell)
Retired state and local government employees participate in a press conference Monday on the Statehouse steps, in a cold, biting wind; they're protesting HCR 42, the measure to block a scheduled 1 percent cost-of-living increase for state retirees scheduled to take effect next month. (Betsy Russell)

About 30 state and local government retirees gathered on the Statehouse steps in a biting wind today to protest HCR 42, the measure to block a scheduled 1 percent cost-of-living increase for state retirees that's scheduled to take effect next month. Longtime state employee Dale Tankersley, who retired 15 years ago after 38 years of service to the state, declared, "I think it's wrong and it's irresponsible, and it's not doing the right thing for public employees." Don Brennan, a retiree who started his career as a teacher in Pocatello, said, "In 2009 the Legislature saw fit to discontinue our health benefits. ... This year, more tampering with the PERSI account," which he said will "minimize the funds we have worked all our lives for."

The press conference was sponsored by the Idaho Public Employees Association, the Idaho Education Association and the AARP of Idaho, all of which are opposing the legislation. Donna Yule of the IPEA said, "We think the Legislature should show confidence in our PERSI board, not try to second-guess them. ... The PERSI fund is not underperforming. It's just simply not true." HCR 42 comes up for a full public hearing tomorrow at 1:30 in the west wing auditorium of the state Capitol. House GOP leaders who pushed the bill said they're worried that the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho fund isn't performing adequately, so they're proposing to override the board's recommendation on a COLA for the first time ever, though the fund remains highly ranked compared to other states' retirement funds. Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, lead sponsor of the bill, said he also was prompted to act by "equity" concerns, because current state employees are facing furloughs and other cuts.



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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