Sen. Nancy Collins, Republican state senator from Tupelo, is attempting to introduce a bill in the legislature to freeze all COLAs (cost of living adjustment) for three years and then change the formula at the end of that time frame. PERS is the State Employees Retirement System.
This is typical political meddling at best and a travesty and injustice at worst. She also intends to add more political appointees to the PERS board. Currently most PERS board members are elected by retirees, as it should be.
I spent 33 years in the Public Schools of Mississippi, with 31 of those years being right here in the Tupelo Public Schools. PERS, along with the state, made a solemn promise to me. The promise was that the PERS retirement benefits, as they currently stand, would serve and sustain me financially the rest of my life. I paid into this retirement system every single month during my 33 years of service. Collins and other politically motivated individuals seek is to break that promise.
The COLA is the only piece of the PERS retirement system that allows it to be a living wage for retirees. The base benefits do not change. COLA is the critical piece of PERS that Collins and like-minded politicians wish to freeze for three years and then change substantially. I planned my entire financial future on PERS, and in particular, on the COLA. PERS has an executive director and a board who say that PERS is actuarially sound. They are in the best position to know this without politicians getting involved in the process.
Should it ever come to pass that PERS has to undergo substantial changes, it should happen only for those entering the PERS system as new employees, so that in all fairness, they will have many years to plan their retirements accordingly. I hope every citizen of Mississippi, involved with PERS or not, will stand up against this grave injustice.
John E. Cother, EdD
TPSD and the State of Mississippi