Treasurer Goldberg Delivers July COLA

Treasurer Goldberg Delivers July COLA
State Treasurer Deb Goldberg

3% For State & Teacher Retirees

Thanks to State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, as well as the State Employees and Teachers Retirement Boards, the July pension checks of over 127,000 State and Teacher retirees will contain the 3% COLA.

Annual COLA approval for both State and Teacher retirees is handled through the State Budget. Despite being approved in all three versions of the FY19 State Budget (Governor, House, and Senate), this year’s 3% COLA payment was stuck in limbo as budget negotiations extended into mid-July.

Traditionally, if the budget was not passed by July 15, then the COLA payment would be delayed until the August pension check, paid at the end of August. This year, the Legislature approved the budget on July 18 and Governor Charlie Baker signed it into law on July 26 – a full 11 days beyond what had been the cutoff date for including a new COLA within the July check.

Knowing that retirees depend on the COLA and having confidence that the 3% increase for FY19 would be signed into law before July pension payments were issued, Treasurer Goldberg instructed her staff to find a way to include the payment in this month’s check.

Deb did not do this because she was asked to. Deb made sure the COLA was included in July simply because it was the right thing to do. And as we know from working with her over the years, Deb Goldberg always finds a way to get things done.

Given our experience with Deb, we’re not surprised. In fact it was her efforts in 1998, to help enact the COLA reform law in her hometown of Brookline, where our close friendship was formed. Since then “COLA” has been an issue in which Deb continues to be a strong advocate.

We cannot thank Treasurer Deb Goldberg and the staffs of both State and Teachers Retirement Systems enough for the work they did over the past few weeks to ensure eligible retirees would receive a July COLA.

In order to be eligible for the FY19 COLA, you must have been retired prior to July 1, 2017.

Further, Mass Retirees continues to advocate for an increase in the COLA base. The current base of $13,000 is inadequate and does not do enough to help retirees keep pace with real inflation. That said, the current unfunded liability and requirements under the pension funding laws make raising the base, even in small increments, a very difficult task. We will continue to work with state officials, the Legislature and the public employee unions to find new ways to address the COLA.