A resolution that would have blocked a 1 percent increase to retired state employees in the Public Employment Retiree System of Idaho (PERSI) has stalled in the Idaho Senate. The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to state retirees was approved by the PERSI Retirement Board, but the House approved a resolution Feb. 19 to block that increase. The plan has stalled in the Senate after Sen. John Andreason, R-Boise, canceled a meeting Tuesday of the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee that he chairs.
"The resolution is dead for the year and won't be considered this legislative session by the Senate," said Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, who serves on the commerce committee. He said Andreason consulted with other Republican leaders before canceling the meeting and said lawmakers were running up against the clock on blocking the increase. "We're about out of time," he said. The COLA increase is scheduled to take effect on March 1. Stegner said the Senate would have to approve the resolution by Wednesday, which would require suspending rules and other procedural actions. He said lawmakers will keep an eye on the state retirement fund, but that the 1 percent increase won't hurt the fund's fiscal security. "We ultimately don't think this PERSI COLA will jeopardize that (financial situation), but it's something the Legislature is going to be involved in monitoring as time goes by."
PERSI provides monthly income to eligible public sector retirees. Those defined benefits continue throughout the retirees' lifetime. The PERSI Retirement Board decides every year about adding a COLA to retirees' benefits. PERSI Chief Investment Officer Bob Maynard has said that money in the PERSI fund, totaling more than $10 billion, belongs to state workers.