Public pension advocates had some good news to celebrate in several states' legislative sessions this year, according to an analysis by the National Public Pension Coalition released Monday.
"We've certainly been able to move the ball forward in a way that public employees have not seen in quite a lot of time," NPPC Executive Director Bridget Early said in an interview.
In Texas and New Hampshire, retired public employees received a cost-of-living adjustment for the first time in more than a decade.
Participants in the $152.2 billion Texas Teacher Retirement System, Austin, will get a 13th check this year, despite the pressure of lower discount rate assumptions from previous years that increased unfunded liabilities.
Colorado legislators eliminated an employee contribution increases slated to kick in for local government employees that the 2018 legislative session enacted.
In Wyoming and Oklahoma, public employees and retirees laid the groundwork for legislation to add COLAs in their 2020 legislative sessions.
Ms. Early attributed the positive changes in part to helping policymakers understand the impact on retired public servants, especially when COLAs are cut or not kept up with inflation, and on local economies. "Looking at what pension spending can do to a state economy is really important," she said.
Another factor is a focus on education spending, including teachers' pensions. "I do think it follows the narrative around the states, where the lack of funding for education has caught up. With 2020 an election year, teachers are going to pay attention to this," Ms. Early said.