Word Count: 434      

As Hoosiers try to navigate the ever-changing economic climate, the need to address the financial struggles facing our retirees has become more apparent. Last budget session, the Indiana General Assembly neglected to appropriate funds for either a 13th check or a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment). Leaving retired public-school teachers and public employees without either form of relief was a missed opportunity by this body. Our retired workers need and deserve this aid in acknowledgement of their contributions to our state. Since I arrived in the Senate in 2016, I have been fighting to pass the 13th Check through the legislative body. We can help in the year 2024.

Nearly every legislative session, retired public employees petition the Indiana General Assembly for a COLA increase of their pension benefits to keep pace with changes in the economy. Another avenue to compensate our retired workers is through the13th check. This additional payment to retirees goes a long way toward alleviating financial burdens and enhancing the well-being of those who played a vital role in building our communities. Indiana prides itself on its two-billion-dollar surplus and triple-A credit rating but in the last legislative budget session we fell short in providing for our retirees, the very ones who helped bolster our state’s economy.

We know costs of living, healthcare expenses, and essential items like groceries have risen drastically, putting significant strain on retirees, especially those living on fixed pensions. I doubt these escalating financial demands have been easy on any of our residents, but those on fixed incomes have been especially hit hard. That’s why the 13th check is so essential: it serves as a lifeline, helping retirees cover unforeseen expenses and maintain a good quality of life in the face of economic challenges.

In addition to the financial aid a 13th check would provide, it shows our gratitude to our public retirees. Passing this proposal would reflect our commitment to honoring the contributions of those who dedicated their working years to build the foundations of our communities. Retirement should not be synonymous with financial uncertainty and anxiety. Instead, it should be a time for individuals to enjoy the fruits of their labor, free from the constant worry of making ends meet.

By supporting the 13th check, we not only provide tangible support to our retired Hoosiers, but also create a society that values and respects the individuals who laid the groundwork for our collective prosperity. I look forward to the discussions ahead and am excited to sponsor this bill when it comes before the Senate.