Rep. Sam Jones Leads Support for Cost of Living Adjustment
BATON ROUGE – This week, Rep. Sam Jones (D- Franklin), the Democratic Caucus Whip, led a bipartisan effort in support of HB 42, which passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 80-20. The bill offers a much needed, and fully funded, cost of living adjustment (COLA) for public employee retirees. The 1.5 percent adjustment covers retirees in four state retirement systems and is fully funded by excess investment returns. Jones and his colleagues overcame stiff resistance from GOP legislators who would have left the funds to help paper over liabilities created by prior non-payments by the state.
“We’ve reformed and reformed, but always on the backs of the members of these state systems. This COLA is fiscally responsible, fully funded by investment earnings and helps support our retirees and improve our local economies,” said Jones.
The original co-authors of the bill, Reps. Dorothy Sue Hill and John Bel Edwards, were joined by nearly 75 co-authors, with overwhelming support from fellow Democrats. The funds designated to pay for the cost of living adjustment would otherwise sit idle for the next several years if not spent on the much-needed increase for retiree benefits. At the same time, retirement income is proven to help drive local parish economies.
“The only reason to oppose this is if you want to sweep the money for another purpose,” Jones noted. “This was a bipartisan effort, but members of the Democratic Caucus were the driving force behind this move to do what is right, and what makes good fiscal sense for our state and the retirement systems.”