House backs pension hike for retired teachers, state workers

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BATON ROUGE — Retired state employees, public school workers and teachers would get a boost to their pension checks, under a bill advancing to the state Senate for consideration.

The House voted 80-20 Tuesday for the proposal by Rep. Sam Jones, a Democrat from Franklin.

The measure would provide a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase to the retirees.

Supporters said the increase would give people on average $30 more a month. Jones said that would help cover escalating state health insurance costs for retirees.

Opponents of the pension hike, including House Retirement Committee Chairman Kevin Pearson, said it would increase state retirement systems’ debt and would undermine a recent law designed to improve the systems’ finances.

The $351 million cost would come from the retirement systems’ excess investment earnings.

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