Final budget passed

State legislators worked into the early morning hours on August 1, passing a final budget for fiscal year 2009 with a cost-of-living increase for state and teacher retirees. Members of the House and Senate, however, only overrode $56.4 million of the $122.5 million in funding vetoes imposed earlier by the governor.

While the Legislature did enact the Higher Education Capital Outlay Bill, which will provide $2 billion for higher education campuses across the state, it failed to restore $10.6 million in funding for public higher education previously vetoed by the governor.

If signed into law by the governor, the COLA bill will provide during this fiscal year a $4,000 base increase – from $12,000 to $16,000 – to state and teacher retirees receiving pensions of $40,000 or less. Next year, all state and teacher retirees will receive the increase.

The MTA is asking members and supporters to urge the governor to sign the COLA Bill, which is House Bill 4959.

The governor has 10 days from August 1 to sign the COLA bill into law.