Retired educators hope for bonus checks from state

Published: May. 21, 2021 at 7:15 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - State lawmakers are looking for ways to give bonuses to retired educators in Alabama.

More than 60,000 Alabama education retirees have a pension that is at or below the federal poverty level and retired educators said they need help.

“We have the cost of inflation, medical expenses on the rise, gas prices on the rise, and just daily living expenses that our retirees struggle to pay with month to month,” said Jill Jackson, who is the executive director for the Alabama Education Retirees Association.

The average age for retired educators in Alabama is in their 70s, and Jackson says it’s not very likely they can work another job to make ends meet.

“We have people with such tiny pensions,” Jackson explained. “Teachers, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, they did not make a lot of money in years past.”

Gov. Kay Ivey signed a bill to create the Education Retirees’ Trust Fund so that retired educators could receive periodic bonus checks.

The problem is there is not any money in this trust fund right now.

“We have a lot of support from the legislative leadership on getting a portion of the potential lottery to go into the trust fund as a funding source,” Jackson said.

Lawmakers have struggled for years to pass a gambling measure. Trust fund bill sponsor Senator Donnie Chesteen said one of the only options to pay for the bonuses is potential gambling revenue.

“We’re always looking for other sources of money for that,” Chesteen said. “But that was what we were looking at”

Chesteen did not know how much money or when retirees could see those bonuses sincere there is not a steady revenue stream in place. However, Chesteen said he wants the trust fund to build to $100 million before dishing the checks out.

Jackson says she hopes retired educators could get anything from $600 to $1200 each year or every few years.

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