Prior to 1946, Louisiana had no retirement system. When state workers could no longer work, they simply left state service.
The fortunate ones were those who had saved for retirement, amassing the resources necessary to exist without a steady paycheck to depend on. But for most, retirement was a frightening prospect leaving the career worker to fend for himself or herself, oftentimes with the grudging help of family and friends.
In 1946, during the first term of Louisiana’s legendary singing governor, Jimmie Davis, Louisiana joined private sector employers and inaugurated the Louisiana State Employees Retirement System (LASERS).
His action made state employment more attractive for workers and provided them with a measure of economic security that had been lacking in their lives.
By 1966, there was a sufficient number of retirees to form a corps of former workers who took an interest in the actions of their state of Louisiana towards retired workers. Thus the Retired State Employees Association (RSEA) was formed. Its mission was “to advance the quality of life of the men and women who have given generously of their talents to the state of Louisiana and are now retired.”
During the 47 years of its existence, RSEA has made a difference in the lives and well-being of retirees. It works closely with LASERS for retirees and oftentimes charges into areas where the retirement system cannot venture. LASERS, being a state agency, is oftentimes restricted in what it can do to influence legislation and legislators. RSEA, on the other hand, is under no such constraints and has campaigned aggressively to pass worthwhile legislation and to defeat action adverse to the best interests of retirees.
Basically, the association has two main concerns: protecting the pension checks of retirees and insuring that retirees have access to affordable and effective health care.
It was in the forefront of the passage of the Experience Account (EA) which funds cost of living adjustments for retired state employees. This account receives one-half of excess earnings on investments of the retirement system and has funded a total of nine cost of living increases since the EA was established in 1992.
Dues in the association are a modest $18 yearly.