House Retirement Chairman Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, said he knew something was up when he started noticing recent correspondence coming from retiree associations with not-so-subtle tag lines.
“Somewhere on the envelope or letterhead it reads, ‘Remember, retirees vote,’” he said laughing.
The second sign came from Louisiana’s experience accounts, which hold extra earnings for the four statewide retirement systems — they’re flush with cash.
Put it all together and you have a political environment ripe for increasing pension checks. Especially since it has been roughly five years since retired state workers and teachers have seen a boost.
“How could (lawmakers) vote no?” Pearson asked. “They’ll only tick off people.”
Dozens of bills have been filed for the upcoming session to address benefit increases, some permanent and others supplemental.
With sights set on the experience accounts, retirement system boards are getting behind bills that are being filed for cost of living adjustments. How much is the big question, with estimations topping out at around 2 percent.
While there’s a formula for determining that, there are also variables, like lawmakers possibly making a grab for all of the money in experience accounts, not just the earning overages.
Pearson said he’s concerned about a permanent increase, but is willing to work with all parties. Most lawmakers probably won’t remember the early 2000s, he added, when experience accounts held a negative balance of $1 billion, which was wiped off the books and mixed into unfunded accrued liability, transforming it into a debt.