On Monday, Governor Mark Gordon officially signed Senate File 39 into law, solidifying pensions for a group of older firefighters in Wyoming.

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The bill would allow for the funding of firefighter pension plan A, which applies to firefighters and their spouses in Wyoming who were working before 1981 when the state switched to a different type of pension plan that was less expensive and had fewer benefits.

Since then, pension plan A has been in danger of running out of money by 2026, so the legislature attempted to address that issue with Senate File 39.

The final bill will create a reserve account to fund pension plan A, $20 million funded by employers with a 20-year no-interest loan from the state treasurer.

While pension plan A originally included a 3% increase each year to keep up with inflation, the new plan will not include an annual increase to help decrease the cost and includes an amendment that spouses don't include those that married after April 1, 2022.

Heidi Foy, whose father and grandfather both worked as firefighters, said that overall she believes firefighters are happy the legislature was able to come to an agreement.

"The firefighters that have been on plan A have been very lucky in the fact that they've received a cost of living allowance every year...This new bill did take out the cost of living allowance increase every year," Foy said. "So while they will not be getting the same amount or any increases moving forward, I still feel like that, and I know that many of the firefighters are in agreement with this, losing that cost of living allowance is better than losing the entire retirement plan."

The bill passed through both bodies with almost every member voting in favor, passing the Senate 28-1, with Senator Bo Biteman declaring a conflict, and the House 59-0, with Representative Jim Blackburn, excused.

Foy said there were concessions made on all sides in order to get the bill over the finish line.

"The firefighters were willing to come to the table and give something up, just as much as the employers and the state were also expected to come to the table. We spoke to several people at the joint appropriations committee, and they were the ones that really put this plan together in a combined effort with some of the firefighters. But really to make it, as one of them would refer to it as a three-legged stool, everybody involved in it really had to come to the table and make some type of contribution or some type of compromise in order to get this to be a bill that the full legislature would get behind and support."

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