Bills would harm state retirees; Senate budget due Tuesday
May 26, 2016
Bills were filed this week in both the House (HB 1134) and Senate (SB 887) recently that would strip the right of state retirees to have association dues, PAC donations and even insurance premiums easily deducted from their pension checks.
The House version of the bill will be heard in the House Pensions and Retirement Committee on Tuesday. We need all members to contact all legislators on the committee and tell them why this reckless bill needs to be changed. We also request that you please consider coming to the committee’s meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Legislative Building in Raleigh. Contact SEANC Government Relations to let us know you are coming. We will make sure you know where to come and can be with SEANC lobbyists and staff to guide you.
The language that takes away these rights was tucked away in what is supposedly a simple “administrative changes” bill. Though intentionally confusing, SEANC lobbyists have confirmed with legislators that the wording does harm to retiree rights.
There is no real cost savings to killing deductions, and legislators know that. Members of the House and Senate are telling us that the Treasurer's Office asked for this language while the Treasurer's Office says that simply isn't so.
Other parts of the bill would also be harmful to state retirees. The House version has a provision that would require workers to continue to work until age 55 regardless of when they hit 30 years of service, and the Senate version bumps that figure up to 65. There are also detrimental changes to the way sick leave is calculated into the retirement formula.
SEANC will not be silenced. Not when retirees haven’t had a real cost-of-living adjustment in years and are suffering because of terrible investment choices.
Senate budget to be unveiled next week
With the House budget complete, it’s the Senate’s turn to weigh in on the spending plan for the next year. And word came out this week that the Senate will waste little time in taking that swing.
According to media reports, the Senate plans to roll out its proposal in Senate Appropriations Committee meetings on Tuesday. Once there, the debate will move fast, with votes scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday on the Senate floor.
Though we have yet to hear from the Senate on salary increases for state employees and cost-of-living adjustments for retirees, we did get a look at its plan for large-scale teacher raises. Once again it’s likely that the Senate will take the governor’s route of pitting state employees against teachers by giving one group more than the other.
The Senate’s budget is the most likely place where we will see language to do away with association dues deductions as well as deductions for PAC donations and insurance premiums. We will be keeping a watchful eye over the proceedings in the coming week.
The House passed its budget with overwhelming bipartisan support. It includes a 2-percent salary increase and $500 bonus for state employees and a 1.6-percent cost-of-living adjustment for state retirees.
As the budget debate moves to the Senate, we encourage members to contact your senator and tell them to build on the raises and COLAs in the House budget. Though it is a step in the right direction, active and retired employees are still far behind the cost of living over the last decade. Not sure who your senators are? Click here.
DOT ignoring House members, moving ahead with cuts
Another item of interest in the Senate budget debate will be the restructuring and outsourcing efforts at DOT. The House passed an amendment to their budget last week that implements a moratorium on the Department of Transportation's restructuring plans that will leave hundreds of state employees jobless.
But the department seems to be moving forward with those plans anyway. The DOT sent emails to employees this week informing them that the planned restructuring would continue and that many of them would receive their walking papers next Tuesday.
House members are rightfully outraged that the DOT is attempting to continue the restructuring and Transportation Appropriations Chairman, Rep. John Torbett says they need some proof of savings before allowing DOT to continue with their current plan.
However, the DOT is not being met with the same logical and fiscally responsible objection in the Senate. "We're fine with the DOT's position of moving forward," Sen. Wesley Meredith, R-Cumberland, said Wednesday afternoon. "This is direction we've given them in past budgets." (You can read the entire article at the link below)
SEANC members need to call to Sen. Meredith and tell him that allowing the Department of Transportation to move forward with the restructuring plan is NOT in the best interests of state employees and definitely not in the best interests of tax payers.
Sen. Meredith can be reached at 919-733-5776 (legislative office), 910-867-9595 (business) or Wesley.firstname.lastname@example.org