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Senate Democrats applaud passage of COLA for retirees

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Democrats applauded passage of House Bill 3350, providing a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for retired public employees.  The full Senate approved the bill on Friday.

Senate Democratic Leader Kay Floyd said her caucus had long fought for a cost-of-living adjustment for public retirees, including firefighters, police, state employees, and teachers.

Sen. Kevin Matthews, Democratic Caucus Chair, noted it had been over a decade since retired public employees received a COLA.

“What the Senate did today was long overdue,” said Matthews, D-Tulsa, a former professional firefighter. “First responders like firefighters and police officers put their lives on the line in order to protect public safety. The least we can do is allow them to retire with dignity and security.”

Sen. Carri Hicks, a former classroom teacher, said passage of the COLA would benefit thousands of retired educators.

“I’m thankful the Senate took much needed action today to provide a cost-of-living adjustment for our retired teachers,” said Hicks, D-Oklahoma City. “As a second generation Oklahoma public school teacher, I know first-hand the sacrifices made by those who dedicate their lives to educating Oklahoma children. My father worked tirelessly in the classroom for 32 years like so many other proud Oklahoma educators. When teachers retire, they shouldn’t have to struggle to make ends meet.”

Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, called passage of the measure an important first step.

“Senate Democrats have prioritized passage of a COLA in our legislative agenda every session for several years,” Floyd said.  “We will continue advocating on behalf of retired public employees, as well as for state investment in core public services such as education, public safety, and health care.”

HB 3350 now goes to the Governor for his consideration.