House passes legislation to provide cost-of-living increase to retired public servants

Bill co-authored by Reps. Deasy and Malagari would deliver dignity in retirement

HARRISBURG, Nov. 14 – Legislation to provide an overdue increase in retirement for a small group of retired public school teachers and state employees passed the PA House today, according to state Rep. Dan Deasy, D-Allegheny, an author of the measure.  

Deasy and state Rep. Steve Malagari, D-Montgomery, worked on the issue for more than a year and crafted language that would provide a cost-of-living increase to those retirees who have not received one in more than 20 years.  

“This is a small group of public servants who not only have not received a cost-of-living adjustment in over 20 years but also whose average age is around 80,” Deasy said. “These are our former teachers, our children’s teachers, maintenance workers at the schools, public employees who have kept our state government running and the list goes on, who are living under poverty wages. We made a promise to these folks that while you likely won’t get rich working the jobs you had, you would not go hungry in retirement. The day has come to fulfill that promise; we are watching some of these people choose between paying rent and putting food on the table.”  

Deasy said COLAs typically were a tacit agreement between the state and these employees that their pensions would be periodically increased to justify receiving a lower pay during their working years as opposed to similarly qualified professionals in other fields.  

“They worked for years with the understanding that if they put in 25, 30, 35 years they would at the very least be able to retire and live with some dignity,” Deasy said. “These were not just teachers, they were coaches, mentors, club organizers, academic advisors. They taught us, they taught our children and sometimes even our grandchildren. Their public employee counterparts answered the call on snow days, and they kept government running on other days. It is vital to their well-being at this stage of life that we remain committed to our promise to them. Passage of this bill is critical to that promise being kept.” 

 The measure now moves to the state Senate for consideration.