A Louisiana House panel Thursday endorsed a one-time cost of living adjustment to public school employee retirees pension checks.

The House Retirement Committee approved legislation that would provide up to a 3.75 percent increase to some 6,923 retirees and their beneficiaries.

House Bill 46 sponsored by state Rep. Ed Price, D-Gonzales, now goes to the Louisiana House floor for debate.

Charles Bujol, executive director of the Louisiana School Employees Retirement System, said there is adequate funding to cover the cost of living adjustment in a special account that “will be used to pay the COLA to these very desiring retirees.”

The average age of the retirees is 76, Bujol said.

Bujol said a 100-year-old retiree draws a $453 a month pension check.

The average per month pension check is $752 or $9,024 a year, each far below the federal poverty level, he said.

Bujol said the average pension in the school employees system is the lowest of those of the 13th state and statewide retirement systems.

The committee approved the measure without objection.

“This is an exceptional situation. It’s not to open the front gates,” said Committee chairman Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell. “I think you have made a strong case for it.”