SEANC Legislative Director Ardis Watkins was denied the opportunity before the State Health Plan Board of Trustees today to discuss several proposals on how to save the State Health Plan money that could provide funding for benefit enhancements and assist plan members.
The new State Personnel Act. What is it and why you should care?
The New State Personnal Act Forum: What is it and why you should care?
January 15, 2014
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Central Piedmont Community College
Cato Campus Auditorium
8120 Grier Rd
After hard work during this legislative session, the association scored numerous victories on behalf of public services and the people who provide them.
Secured Bonus Leave
This year’s budget includes five days of bonus leave that employees can use until June 30, 2014.
Set Three Christmas Holidays
A small but welcome fact in the State Personnel Modernization Act makes permanent a three-day Christmas holiday. Previously the Christmas holiday alternated between two and three days depending on the day Christmas fell.
Maintained Worker Rights
SEANC maintained the integrity of the State Personnel Act by having 36 troubling provisions, including due process and patronage concerns, removed from the State Personnel Modernization Act.
Maintained Defined Benefit Program
SEANC successfully maintained and protected the current defined benefit program. SEANC worked with House members to halt a bill containing a new optional 401(k) retirement system that would have undermined the current retirement system, an anti-spiking provision and a return to five-year-vesting in the retirement system
SEANC stopped three attempts in the House Appropriations Committee to remove the prohibition on contracting out prison maintenance.
Fully Funded Retirement System
SEANC helped secure full funding for the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System for the third-straight year. This year the state contributes 8.69 percent.
Continued State Health Plan Premium-Free Option
The PPO Basic 70/30 Plan continues to be a premium-free health care option with no benefit reductions.
Converted State Health Plan Calendar
The State Health Plan will convert to a calendar year effective Jan. 1, 2014. SEANC advocated for this change to assist Medicare-eligible retirees who were struggling with two different calendar years for their health care. Currently Medicare uses the calendar year and the State Health Plan uses the state fiscal year which created headaches keeping up with different deductible periods. This change should help Medicare-eligible retirees plan better and save the plan money.
Protected Worker Privacy
SEANC protected state workers’ performance evaluations from being made public. The bill never made it to a vote.
Mitigated Job Losses
Although we’d prefer to lose zero jobs, SEANC fought tooth-and-nail to keep public services and the people who provide them intact this session. The N.C. Senate’s budget proposal cut 1,600 jobs, but thanks to SEANC’s efforts, the final budget cut less than 600 positions and the majority of these employees have already been placed in new jobs within the Department of Public Safety. Examples include limiting prison closures from eight to five and saving 35 positions from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Oral Health Section.
Reduced Risky Alternative Investments in Retirement System
The State Treasurer requested the authority to invest 40 percent of the $81 billion Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement Fund in risky alternative investments. SEANC opposed any expansion of alternative investment authority. Ultimately a bill was passed to increase investment authority by only 1 percent more than the currrient portfolio allowance
Clarified Reduction-in-Force Rights
The bill to change the State Personnel Act included a section clarifying re-employment rights for employees who lose their job due to a reduction-in-force (RIF). These employees will only lose their RIF priority re-employment rights if the rights are not exercised within one year of RIF notice or if they are offered a position or salary that is equal to or higher than the position held or the salary earned by the employee at the time of the RIF notification. This new section prevents the State Personnel Commission from adopting its proposed rule that would have made RIF’d employees lose their RIF priority re-employment rights even if they were offered a position and salary less than that held or earned at the time of the RIF notification.
Reduced State Health Plan Charges for the PPO 80/20
SEANC was the only group to speak out against a premium increase for the PPO 80/20 plan during State Health Plan Board meetings. SEANC cited the fact that the plan is now in “the black,” the utilization rate of the plan has decreased and reserves have grown as reasons why no premium increases were needed.
Halted a Minimum Retirement Age
Legislation was set for introduction that would have instituted a minimum retirement age for state service. SEANC discussed the potential for safety problems with bill proponents changing the age limit in demanding physical jobs within several agencies including the Departments of Public Safety, Transportation and Health and Human Services. The bill was not introduced.
Stopped Treasurer from Handing Out Health Plan Contracts
SEANC worked to eliminate a provision in the State Health Plan corrections bill which would have given the state Treasurer the sole authority to approve an unlimited number of State Health Plan contracts, each with a value of up to $500,000.