Governor signs Schoesler bill to improve firefighter, law-enforcement officer retirement benefits

A measure introduced by 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler that increases retirement benefits for firefighters and law-enforcement officers was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee today.

Senate Bill 5791 provides Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Retirement System Plan 1 members with a one-time payment equal to $100 per month of service for retirees and a minimum of $20,000 for catastrophic and duty-disability retirees, and duty-death beneficiaries. The lump-sum payments will come from a nearly $2 billion surplus in the LEOFF 1 system, which was closed to further enrollment in 1977.

“This helps our courageous law-enforcement officers and firefighters who put their lives on the line to serve the public,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “Using the budget surplus to give LEOFF 1 pension members a one-time payout means some more money for their retirement years, while making only a very small dent in the state budget surplus. And there will still be a very large reserve in the LEOFF 1 pension account.”

Schoesler added that increased benefits create incentives for law enforcement officers and firefighters to stay longer in their jobs.

The Senate and House of Representatives each unanimously passed the bill during the 2022 legislative session, which ended March 10.

The Law Enforcement Officers’ and Fire Fighters’ Retirement System (LEOFF) provides retirement benefits to full-time, fully compensated law-enforcement officers and firefighters employed by the state, cities, counties and special districts. Law-enforcement officers and firefighters who entered service between 1969 and October 1, 1977, were enrolled in LEOFF Plan 1. Those entering service after that date are part of the LEOFF Plan 2.