During the recent legislative session, Maine lawmakers passed a bill (LD 1104), with bipartisan support, that will guarantee that retired public school teachers and state employees receive their full benefits. Gov. Janet Mills has not yet signed the bill into law.

Unlike those working in the private sector, public school teachers and state employees contribute to a state-operated retirement system, the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, in lieu of Social Security. Cost of living has been and remains a crucial part of that system. While annual COLAs have been represented to public sector workers as part of their retirement benefits, they are not currently protected as a matter of law for public school teachers and state employees in the state’s retirement system.

This legislation very simply makes our COLA a protected benefit by specifying that it constitutes a solemn contractual obligation of the state under state stature as well as the Maine and U.S. Constitutions. It does not seek to increase how a COLA is to be calculated.

This legislation keeps the promises that were given to public service employees at the time of hire that a COLA would be part of their retirement benefit. It also benefits all our public service retirees and educators who have made significant sacrifices to the state.

The Maine Association of Retirees respectfully asks Gov. Mills to keep the promise given to public service employees and sign the annual cost-of-living bill waiting on her desk.

Arthur Allard, Lewiston

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