We’re back! We have been pretty silent for a while, but this woke us up!
When legislative changes were made to the At that time, as the theory went, future credit for additional COLA benefits would return. Florida Statute 121.101 Cost-of-living adjustment of benefits.—subsection 5 reads as follows:
(5) Subject to the availability of funding and the Legislature enacting sufficient employer contributions specifically for the purpose of funding the expiration of the cost-of-living adjustment specified in subsection (4), in accordance with s. 14, Art. X of the State Constitution, the cost-of-living adjustment formula provided for in subsection (4) shall expire effective June 30, 2016, and the benefit of each retiree and annuitant shall be adjusted on each July 1 thereafter, as provided in subsection (3).
It is now becoming apparent from our sources in Tallahassee that the key verbiage is the first sentence – “Subject to availability of funding and the Legislature enacting…”is the most important. While identical bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate (HB 1011, and SB 1326) , it appears that both were allowed to die. Equally apparent, is that the budget will not include funding, nor “sufficient employer contributions” to re-instate COLA for FRS members. As such, we do not believe the additional credit to your Cost of Living Adjustment will return!
We can not help but believe the language was purposely put into the statute to provide the legislators with an out, and we wonder if there was any intent to bring back COLA. We are hard pressed to remember, back when the COLA was eliminated, the “maybe” caveats being added. We went back and reviewed news articles from early 2011, when the legislation was changed, and while all mentioned COLA being frozen, we could not find any that mentioned the “subject to the availability of funding” language. Seems that was added in Legislative committee when the final statute was approved. We will leave it to our readers to decide if this was a duplicitous move.