The Star-Herald

Please support Maine retirees

To the editor:

During the recent legislative session, Maine lawmakers passed a bill, LD 1104, with bipartisan support, that will guarantee that retired public school teachers and state employees receive their full benefit. Governor Mills has not signed the bill into law.

Public school teachers and state employees contribute to a state-operated retirement system. They do not participate in Social Security, like those who work in the private sector. In the 1980s, Maine made the decision not to be part of Social Security, promising teachers and state employees an equivalent system. That meant both a monthly payment at retirement and an annual cost-of-living, or inflation, adjustment. Maine law caps both the rate of the adjustment and the benefit amount to which it applies. Employer and worker contributions that reflect the future cost of benefits, including inflation adjustments, provide the funds the system invests to help pay for current and future benefits.

Unlike Social Security, Maine does not protect the annual cost-of-living adjustment by law. In 2011, for the first time, the Legislature suspended it for three years. This action affected all retirees, but especially the financial security of the oldest retirees, many of whom are single women. Preventing further erosion of their retirement benefit is critical.

I and the other 13,000-plus members of the Maine Association of Retirees respectfully ask Gov. Mills to keep the promise given to public service employees and sign the annual cost-of-living bill waiting on her desk.

Peter Edgecomb

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