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Public retirement system study panel urges cost-of-living freeze

A three-year moratorium on cost of living allowances, or COLAs, for Mississippi’s retired public employees is a key recommendation of a report that will be released by Gov. Haley Barbour Wednesday.

The moratorium recommended by a Barbour-appointed study commission could save the Public Employees Retirement System of Mississippi about $40 million annually for three years but would deprive about 80,000 retirees of income needed to keep up with higher prices for housing, food, energy and other necessities. The Mississippi Legislature must approve any changes to current benefits or retirement eligibility requirements.

PERS covers retired state and county and municipal employees as well as public school teachers and administrators. PERS also covers community college employees.

Workers pay 9 percent of their wages into the retirement system while employers contribute 12 percent. The employer share is scheduled to increase to 12.93 percent on Jan. 1. Barbour has lamented what he says is the burden the public employees retirement system has placed on the state’s taxpayers and called for reforms.

Barbour and PERS Study Commission Chairman George Schloegel will present the recommendations of the study commission at 2:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Governor’s Press Room on the 18th floor of the Sillers Building, 550 High St.

The press conference will be webcast at www.governorbarbour.com.


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  1. Charlie Stogner

    Does this mean these retirees, public employee retirees who while still on the payroll had sick leave many of them use a simply ‘days off’, may have to suffer the same as the thousands of non-government workers that are now out of work and the hundreds of small business owners that have had to take severe cuts in their imcome?
    How dare anyone suggest these former state workers be made to suffer along with other Mississippians.

  2. Would this moratorium on cost of living allowances be similar to the cost of living allowances that the Social Security Administration handed out over the last few years?

  3. what exactly this freeze mean? No check? less money? No increases in the percent in the future?

  4. We know that Governor Barbour never cared for state employees. He’s just going out with a grand finale to accentuate that fact. The State of Mississippi made a promise to all of its state employees by way of state statute and the its retirement system. The state needs to honor its promise. Part of any company (or government) doing business is providing for the operation of that company (or government). The fact that Governor Barbour, after eight years in office, has not been able to adequately fund state government in order to honor the state’s promises and legal business obligations says a lot about his lack of business savvy.

  5. I wish we had more people of integrity in place now. I have never felt Gov. Barbour has my interest at heart. Decisions are based along party lines. I think the names of everyone on the committee should be made public. Then, we will have the opportunity to look at their lives and see if the decision was based on the fact that they are so above us that we are of no consequence. I consider Congress to be no more than a union. Do they not serve the same purpose-to represent a select group of individuals. If the unions need to go so does congress.

  6. Please remember the money you are discussing came out of our checks. We would like for you to take some of your retirement Haley Barbour!!!Just to see how it feels. Please remember your promise.

  7. George Schlegel and the governor could care less for the state employees who stayed to work here for lower wages because of the benefits we were promised at retirement. I would like to see either of these men live on my retirement income. The cost of living check is money I use to pay my out of control flood and house insurance on the coast and pay my taxes. These men have no idea have the average state retiree lives. This is a sad day for those of us who gave 25plus years to help the citizens of the state.

  8. Susan Townsend

    What is frozen? The 13th check, the 3% that it goes up each year or is there any truth to the fact that I just retired in June have not recieved a check at all and I won’t get one for three years? I would have never retired! How can it be ok for some people to get 10,000 for the next three years and I get nothing? I am a widow and I need what I was told I could expect.

  9. Roxann Teacher

    What I want published is the list of Representatives that vote YES for this, and then I will lobby to vote every one of them OUT of office. I also want published the definition of “freeze.” Does it mean: no check or lower check?

  10. The first cuts should Come from the retirement system of the state leg. They can draw retirement on expense accounts. How nice is that?

  11. Rosemary H. Murphy

    Am I the only person who finds it hard to believe that this committee (hand picked by the Governor)is fair-minded, especially after the head of the committee is the Mayor of Gulfport, where the Governor just recently pumped in millions of dollars of Katrina money for expansion? That seems like a “pat-my-back-I’ll-pat-yours” committment if I ever heard of one. Ladies and gents we are in for a new era of “in-my-pocket politics”. Where will it end?

  12. The retirement system for state employees is not making anyone rich. Healt insurance of any kind is not included and members make great contributions. Other states, that pay their teachers A LOT more money, have fully paid health insurance in retirement and have required very little if any employee contribution. Maybe part of the problem is that those state senators and reps receive 1.5 years credit toward retirement for every on year of “service”. Where a teacher has to work 30 years those in our state government only have to work 20 years at their part time job to get the same benefits. I would not be suprised to find out that they have no employee contribution, but I’m not sure. Maybe cut back on staff and spending for our state legislature and no extra pay for special or extended sessions. That right there could save us about 20 million a year.

  13. Obviously some comprimise on this issue will be reached when the legislature convenes. There are many alternatives including freezing the cola at current levels, recalculating the cola at cpi levels , requiring a minimum number of years after retirement before the cola can be distributed and taxing retirement benefits. The latter would make sense and could generate considerable income for the state. Retirees are a major part of the economy. If you decrease their income and purchasing power the state will suffor.

  14. 25 years of Firefighting! We paid into the retirement system to be able to retire with this COLA disbursement. The legislature created a separate retirement for them? Are they better than us? Go figure!!!

  15. I worked for thirty seven years for my State of Ms and for my retirement and calculated my early SS and my 13th check before I decided I had had enough of State Government!!!! I would not have retired without knowing what I was promised at the time I retired. I never dreamed my promise of this gratuity of working so many years may be taken from me. We all fed into this system and I expect it to continue.

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