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Retired Teachers, Police, Other Public Workers Could See Pension Bump

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Wyoming's retired firefighters, teachers and other public sector workers have lost an estimated 21% of their spending power since the last pension inflation adjustment in 2008. (Pixabay)
Wyoming's retired firefighters, teachers and other public sector workers have lost an estimated 21% of their spending power since the last pension inflation adjustment in 2008. (Pixabay)
March 2, 2020

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The cost of health care, groceries and housing has increased dramatically since 2008, the last time Wyoming's retired public employees saw an inflation adjustment in their monthly pension checks, and many are having trouble keeping up.

Last week, Wyoming lawmakers passed House Bill 112 to give the state's former teachers, police, firefighters and other public workers some relief.

Anastasia Marchese, a coordinator with the Wyoming Coalition for a Healthy Retirement, hopes the Senate follows suit.

"Retired public employees across the state are in dire need of an inflation adjustment this year," she states. "It's been over 12 years since the last inflation adjustment. The cost of health care alone has put a major strain on our retirees."

HB 112 would provide an inflation adjustment in 2020 depending on how long a retiree has been retired, and also would fund a study on the lost spending power of retirees in the state.

Some lawmakers express concern about bumping up pension checks given the state's tight budget restraints and ongoing challenges facing the oil and gas industry.

Pension benefits in Wyoming created more than $790 million in economic output in 2016, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security, and supported 5,100 jobs.

Wayne Schatz, executive director of Wyoming Retired Education Personnel, says helping retirees who dedicated their entire career to serving their communities also will help local and state economies.

"Every penny that is given to these people becomes critical because Wyoming retirees do support their local communities," he points out. "They support the jobs that are there."

Wyoming's public sector retirees have lost an estimated 21% of their spending power since the last inflation adjustment, according to the Wyoming Cost of Living Index.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY