Bill would provide 13th check for public retirees

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Bob Cherry

INDIANAPOLIS – A bill authored by a state representative from Greenfield would provide a 13th check to retired public employees and teachers.

Indiana Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, is leading efforts for the post-retirement payment designed to help cover cost-of-living gaps. The payment is based on an employee’s number of years vested in their retirement plan. Cherry’s proposed legislation – House Bill 1028 – also includes a $50 increase to retirees in the state’s public pension program.

“Public employees, from teachers to conservation officers, are critical to making the state of Indiana run smoothly and efficiently,” Cherry said in a news release. “The costs of everyday goods and services continue to increase, and this additional money will help those retirees who dedicated their careers to serving Hoosiers.”

Cherry said teachers, public employees, state excise police, gaming agents, gaming control officers, conservation officers and state police officers who are a part of Indiana’s public pension program would receive a 13th check, as well as a $50 increase in 2023 and 2024.

The state has provided 13th checks to retired public employees in the past, but recently switched to a cost-of-living increase.

The House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced the bill earlier this month. Laura Penman, executive director of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association, testified in support of the bill at the committee hearing.

“We have several retired educators with a pension of $1,000 or less a month,” Penman said. “This check means a lot to them. I have talked to hundreds of struggling retirees since taking my position almost two years ago. They have shared stories with me on how the 13th check has gone to medical expenses, utilities, sudden emergencies and maybe even Christmas presents for their grandchildren.”

A fiscal impact statement associated with the bill estimates that the total state costs for the 13th checks and $50 payments are $37.8 million in fiscal year 2024 and $38.2 million in fiscal year 2025.

Funds to pay the 13th checks for the Indiana Public Employees’ Retirement Fund, Indiana State Teachers’ Retirement Fund and Conservation Enforcement Officers’ Retirement Plan would come from the supplemental reserve accounts of the respective funds.

Funds to pay the 13th checks for State Police benefit recipients would come from either a state General Fund appropriation or the State Police trust fund.

The $50 payments would be paid from either General Fund appropriations, the respective pension funds or a combination of the two sources.

There are nearly 89,000 qualified retirees and beneficiaries associated with the state cost for the 13th checks, and over 87,000 for the $50 payments.

The fiscal impact statement estimates that the total local costs for the 13th checks and $50 payments are $29 million in fiscal year 2024 and almost $30 million in fiscal year 2025.

The checks and $50 payments would provide benefits to about 65,000 local Indiana Public Employees’ Retirement Fund members and 9,200 Indiana State Teachers’ Retirement Fund members. Like the state costs, funds for the checks would come from supplemental reserve accounts of the respective funds, while funds for the $50 payments would come from either General Fund appropriations, the respective pension funds or a combination of the two sources.