“The post-retirement increase, commonly known as a COLA, became effective July 1, 1969. The COLA was a set 1.5 percent of the member’s original annuity. At the same time, active member contributions were increased 0.5 percent to help defray the cost of the COLA. The following improvements were made to the program: January 1, 1972 – 2 percent COLA (with no increase in contributions); January 1, 1978 – 3 percent COLA (with no increase in contributions); and January 1, 1990 – post retirement increase, compounded (with no increase in contributions)” (Rich Frankenfeld, TRS Director of Outreach).
Cinda Klickna, President of the IEA, maintains that “there is some belief that a flat COLA tied to CPI may not be unconstitutional, but of course that hasn’t been tested. As for a change in a COLA, it might depend on whether there is a corresponding benefit enhancement.”
It appears that legislators will steamroll ahead with what is most self-serving, regardless of the effects that a COLA reduction will have on Illinois teachers and their families. What seems blatantly obvious is that a COLA reduction for teachers will not be made compulsory on the legislators who pass such a bill, nor will it affect the legislators’ other guaranteed and unimpeded benefits, pensions and their social security. In this regard, to reduce the teachers’ COLA, whether it is deemed legal or not, will unquestionably diminish the teachers’ “promised” benefits.
It will affect the retired teachers’ financial security in an uncertain future, and it will most likely be challenged in the courts if it occurs. Creating and passing any bill that diminishes “promised” benefits, such as the compounded TRS COLA that is already in place for current and retired teachers, is a breach of trust. It’s discriminating. In fact, it's emblematic of a continued unjust forfeiture and a theft to one particular group of people in Illinois, and it’s wrong.
For an Update, Click Here: COLA: a Guarantee for Illinois Judges (What about Public Employees?)