2018 PENSION LEGISLATION

 

A stipend (13th Check) was approved in the 2017 State Budget, so there was not a need this year to approach the 2018 Legislature for a stipend or COLA.

 

The 2018 State Legislature, however, did pass a bi-partisan bill to support and establish Supplemental Accounts for increasing pension benefits such as a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) or stipend (13th Check).  With these Supplemental Accounts established, the legislature will be able to prefund these accounts to establish potential increases in pension benefits.  These accounts will not have enough funding until at least 2020 to begin to pay out.

 

 

2017 PENSION LEGISLATION

 

During the 2017 General Assembly there were 1179 bills filed, 525 presented in the Senate and 654 in the House.  24 Pension related bills were filed and 10 of those effected teacher pensions, 9 of those bills died in the General Assembly although one bill had its language resurrected in HB1001, the Budget Bill, at the very end of the session.

 

There were 3 COLA bills and 3 “13th Check” bills written, but only HB 1534 the traditional “13th Check” bill cleared both houses and was signed by the Governor on April 20th.  The “13th Check” was funded at its normal amounts for two years in the budget which is the first time that has happened.  HB 1534 passed unanimously out of the House and on a 49-1 vote in the Senate. Only Senator Kenley voted against the bill.

 

NB 1467, the Defined Contribution Option bill for new educators, passed through the house mostly on a party line vote.  It met more opposition in the Senate and passed on a delayed vote 26-24, with one Senator changing his vote in the middle of the delay and the last two Senators that delayed the vote, voted yes. Representative Carbaugh, who authored HB 1467, was not pleased with the two amendments that the Senate Labor Committee added that stripped the bill of some flexibility.  The three year flexibility was the only portion that the IRTA liked about the bill that had very few positives and they opposed the bill overall.  Representative Carbaugh took the bill to Conference Committee hoping to have the bill redeemed to its original language.  He was not able to accomplish that, so the bill died in Conference Committee, or so everyone thought.

 

The following week, during the last two days of  the General Assembly session, the language of HB 1467 was placed into the Budget Bill behind closed doors.  This was done after any public testimony could be given and before updated versions of the 165 page bill could be read.  The Budget Bill passed, so in the future new teachers will have to choose between the Hybrid Pension system that retired teachers are currently under or a 401K style retirement plan when they sign their first contract.  Many legislators were unaware that this language was included in the Budget Bill when they voted on it. This pension option will most likely become effective after IRS approval for the 2018-2019 new hires.

 

 

 

2016 PENSION LEGISLATION

 

HB 1161 “13th check” had complete support in the House of Representatives.  The bill was authored by Representative Gutwein with an amendment added by Chairman Brown to fund the bill through the tax amnesty program.  It was a huge help that the bill went fully funded and unanimously to the Senate.  The bill passed easily through the Labor and Pensions Committee and the Appropriations Committee and passed on the 3rd reading in the full Senate by a 39-11 vote.  Several additional amendments were added to the bill as it moved along.  Finally Representative Gutwein dissented and asked for the additional amendments to be pulled. The bill then had to pass through each of the steps again.  No amendments were added and the bill had final passage unanimously though the Senate.  It was later signed by the governor.

 

A much bigger problem arose when Representative Benning introduced a Defined Contribution Pension Plan to be offered to new hires in education in HB 1004.  This is the third time that such a bill has been considered in the Legislature.  Although not affecting currently retired or active teachers, this bill would have been a big blow to the pension programs of future teachers.  A Defined Contribution plan puts much more responsibility on the employee in managing the growth of his/her pension.  There is also no guarantee that the pension will not run out before the retiree is deceased.  Thankfully through the support and work of IRTA members and the IRTA Executive Director and lobbyist, this bill was defeated.  The problem, however, is that this plan is destined to return.  State legislatures across the nation want to get out from under the responsibility of handling pension program.  It will be an unfortunate day for educators when this happens.

 

 

2015 PENSION LEGISLATION

 

On the last day of the Indiana General Assembly a 13th Check amendment was added back into the State Budget.  The amounts of the 13th Check was the same as has been given during the past years.

·        Retirees with less than ten years of creditable service and on disability: $150.00.

·        Retirees with ten years of creditable service, but less than twenty:  $275.00.

·        Retirees with twenty years of creditable service, but less than thirty:  $375.00.

·        Retirees with thirty plus years of creditable service:  $450.00.

 

Although appreciative of the 13th Check, the General Assembly’s decision was a disappointment for retired teachers, as the Association had worked very hard to try and secure a COLA.  It has been seven years since the last COLA was granted by the State Legislators and the buying power of retired teachers has greatly diminished over that period of time.

 

 

2014 PENSION LEGISLATION

 

Unfortunately the 2014 Indiana General Assembly concluded its session without granting a COLA for the Indiana retired teachers.  The COLA bill, HB 1231, presented by Representative Douglas Gutwein and supported by Representatives David Niezgodski, Martin Carbaugh, and Jeff Thompson, passed out of the House Labor and Pension Committee on January 15, 2013.  It later passed out of the House Way and Means Committee, chaired by Representative Tim Brown, on January 24, 2014.  The 13th Check Bill, HB 1074, presented by Representative Woody Burton, also passed out of the Labor and Pension Committee on January 24 and later the House Ways and Means Committee. 

 

On February 19, 2014, both bills came before the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee.  HB 1231 was heard in the committee with supporting testimony by Representative Woody Burton and IRTA Executive Director, Nancy Tolson.  The bill died, however, when Committee Chairman Senator Luke Kenley did not bring the bill to a vote.  HB 1074 was heard with supporting testimony by Representative Woody Burton and retired Senator Morris Mills.  It was voted on by the committee and passed.  It later passed through the entire Senate and was signed by Governor Pence on March 27.

 

HB 1074 provides for the following stipend in September 2014’s TRF pension check:

·        Retirees with less than ten years of creditable service and on disability: $150.00.

·        Retirees with ten years of creditable service, but less than twenty:  $275.00.

·        Retirees with twenty years of creditable service, but less than thirty:  $375.00.

·        Retirees with thirty plus years of creditable service:  $450.00.

 

Although disappointed by the Senate’s action on the COLA bill, it was noted that various senators commented that the COLA request was coming in a non-budget year and that the bill would stand a better chance in a regular budget year.

 

 

2013 PENSION LEGISLATION

 

The Indiana General Assembly concluded its 2013 session with approval to HB 1080, giving a financial stipend (13th Check) to the retired members of the Teachers Retirement Fund and the Public Employees Retirement Fund.  The stipend is in the same amounts as 2012 and will be added to the September TRF and PERF checks.

At least 30 years of creditable service: $450

At least 20 years, but less than 30 years of creditable service: $375

At least 10 years, but less than 20 years of creditable service: $275

Between 5 and 10 years (with disability retirement benefits only): $150.

 

In addition to the stipend (13th Check), all of the state’s excess budget money over $50,000,000 will go into the Teachers’ Pension Stabilization Fund.  This amount will not be known until the end of the fiscal year.

 

The Association worked and lobbyed hard for not only the 13th Check, but also a COLA (HB1590), a $500 minimum retirement check for all pre-1980 retirees (HB 1223), and military credit for men and women who served in the armed forces before going into their teaching career (HB 0439).  Although only HB 1080 was passed by the legislators, the Association will continue to strive to get these other programs adopted.

 

 

2012 PENSION LEGISLATION

 

After much deliberation House Bill 1123 passed through the State Legislature. In September 2012, retired teachers who retired on or before December 1, 2010, will receive a 13th check as follows:

At least 30 years of creditable service: $450

At least 20 years, but less than 30 years of creditable service: $375

At least 10 years, but less than 20 years of creditable service: $275

Between 5 and 10 years (with disability retirement benefits only): $150.

 

Indiana retired teachers can again be grateful for the hard work of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association, its Legislative Committee, its officers, and its Executive Director Andrew Thomas.  Long hours and diligence were again the norm.  On Thursday evening, the night before the Legislature adjourned for the year, House Bill 1123 passed through both houses of the Legislature.  On March 19th the governor signed the bill.

 

The other bill to aid the Teachers Retirement Fund was Senate Bill 143 which set aside a portion of the money from the $320 million budget surplus for the Retired Teachers’ Unfunded Liability. 

 

Representative Woody Burton, Representative Tim Neese, Senate Chairman Luke Kenley, and Senator Ed Charbonneau were influential in getting our 13th check through the Legislature.  Be sure to let them and our own local legislators know that we appreciate their support of retired teachers. 

 

Several other bills were also presented by the Indiana Retired Teachers, but were never heard.  These included (1) a Military Service Credit which would grant up to six years of service credit in the teachers’ retirement fund for a member’s past active military duty and (2) a Minimum TRF Pension of $500 for retired teachers who retired before 1980 with twenty years of creditable service.

 

House Enrolled Act 1376 passed the House by a vote of 76 to 17 and the Senate by a vote of 40 to 10.  This bill designates a portion of the state’s reserve surplus be used for the Pension Stabilization Fund of the Teachers' Retirement Fund. The total amount has yet to be determined.