Legislature's budget includes COLA base increase

The Legislature enacted the FY09 state budget on July 3. The base on which the annual 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is computed was increased from $12,000 to $16,000 for members of the Massachusetts Teachers' Retirement System (MTRS) and for state employees.

In addition, the schedule for fully funding the pension system was changed from 2023 to 2026. The budget also included the establishment of a special commission to study the Massachusetts contributory retirement systems.

The budget now awaits the governor's signature, amendments and vetoes. Ask Gov. Patrick to keep the COLA base increase in the budget. Contact the Governor.

Click here to send this message to Gov. Patrick:

I urge you to keep the $16,000 base on which the annual 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is computed in the FY09 state budget.

As you know, the maximum annual COLA that a retiree or survivor can receive has been $360 since 1997. The base was set at $6,000 in 1971 and has only doubled in the past 36 years. The cost of living in Massachusetts has increased more than fivefold since 1971.

With a maximum monthly COLA of just $30, it is not hard to see why retirees are finding it difficult to keep pace with inflation. The increase in the COLA base to $16,000 would provide retirees with only an additional $10 per month. This would be the first "raise" for retirees in 11 years.

It is fair and just that the COLA base be increased to $16,000.