This week marks the passing of the halfway point of the 2018 General Assembly. The activity in the halls of the Capitol is picking up. With less than 30 days remaining in the session, the crafting of a budget and releasing a possible a pension bill looms large in Frankfort. Your advocacy is vitally important as we enter the second half of the session. Letting your legislator know how important your earned benefits are to your financial well being as well as the local economy in your community with calls, emails and personal contact is vital. Always be respectful to your legislator. Do your best not to spread rumors or speculation about teacher pensions. KRTA membership has a lot of respect in Frankfort; let's keep it that way.
This week According to Kentucky.com, Senate President Robert Stivers declared that the state’s public pension system reform will no longer carry several of Gov. Matt Bevin’s controversial concepts.
The rejected propositions include the moving of any existing or future employees from their defined benefits plan (DB) into a 401(k)-style plan, as well as a five-year freeze on cost of living expenses for retired teachers, both of which Bevin proposed in October.
While President Stivers' comments imply the five year freeze on the cost of living expense has been rejected, it still is concerning that the COLA may be reduced for a number of years. We also do not hear any assurance from legislative leadership that health insurance for retirees will be held harmless.
We have received many calls and emails concerning HB 366. The Monthly Per Employee Health Insurance Benefits Assessment, which is in HB 366, Section 20, is the administrative fee employers pay to the personnel cabinet to cover the administrative costs incurred by the Personnel Cabinet associated with employees in the state health plan. In the case of retirees in the state health plan, the fee is paid by the retirement systems. This provision is typically in the budget proposal that comes from the Governor (HB 202 for the 2018 session) and then it is taken out of the budget bill, along with anything else in the budget bill related to producing revenue and transferred to an omnibus revenue measures bill (HB 366) this year.
The same language for the Monthly Per Employee Health Insurance Benefits Assessment was in HB 303, the 2016 session budget bill, and was transferred to the omnibus revenue bill in 2016. This has nothing to do with the pension or the 3% Bevin proposed to be paid into the health care plan. This is simply a provision that covers the cost of paperwork the Personnel Cabinet performs on behalf of any employers or retirement system that have employees or members in the state health plan.
Please continue to make your voice heard by contacting your legislator. Our message hasn't changed since these talks began.
1) Maintain a defined benefit program for current and future teachers.
2) Maintain ALL retiree health insurance
3) Maintain the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for retired teachers and
4) Maintain the current governance and operations of TRS.
Keep up with the latest information regarding our fight to protect teacher pensions at www.teachfrankfort.org.
A special thanks to State Representative Rand and Graham for filing a resolution to honor the work of Dr. Wagoner this week. Mary and Jarrod were on the floor of the House this week while the resolution was being read. The entire House of Representatives gave the resolution a standing ovation.