OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – State retirees are calling for a boost to their pensions after Oklahoma lawmakers got a 35% pay raise.
Claudia Swisher taught public school in Norman from 1979-2013.
Now, she’s retired and goes to a retired-teachers meeting every month.
”You don’t make enough, and then health insurance just nibbles every single year, it goes up. It went up this year again,” Swisher said.
Those struggles are felt across the Sooner state.
There are 63,000 retired teachers in Oklahoma.
They make up the biggest pension system.
There are seven in total.
Since the legislative compensation board gave state lawmakers a 35% pay raise, state retirees say it’s their turn.
“It is an immense raise. I’m hoping we can go now to the legislators and say, ‘I’m so happy you got that raise, and I know it’s going to make it a whole lot easier for your family. What are you going to do for us?'” Swisher said.
Earlier this month, Democrat and Republican leaders in the House told News 4 they hope the lawmaker pay raise will encourage more people to run for office.
Legislative efforts to boost state employees’ pensions were put on hold last year to look at the cost.
Now, lawmakers could consider two bills.
One gives state retirees a 2% cost of living adjustment.
The other bill gives a 4% adjustment.
“Retirees have seen, since the last 11 years, increase in their health insurance premium for Medicare supplement of 42 percent, so a four percent COLA would only cover a very small portion of that,” Sabra Tucker, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association said.
Swisher says she and her husband do okay, but she plans to tell lawmakers about some of her friends who struggle – friends who dedicated their lives to teaching Oklahoma kids.
“They’re hurting, and I’ll go fight for them,” Swisher said.
The lawmaker pay raise doesn’t go into effect until November of next year.