Monday, November 6, 2006

Some Teachers Are Going to Be Mad...

That they voted early. I don't know why this is just now finding the light of day, but here's more on the rumor that Sonny plans to take the ax to teacher retirement. This came in this morning from Ann Rose.

If you are:

Retired or Active Teacher,
Retired or Active University System Employee,
Retired on Active State Employee,
Retired or Active Judicial System Employee . . .

Then You Need to Know:

The state has a contract and obligation with you that if you retire from one of the teacher or employee retirement systems (instead of withdrawing) as an eligible member of the health insurance system, then you and your eligible dependants remain a member of the state health insurance system.

Your retirement system benefits, including health insurance are the reason many people have a career as an public educator or state worker, despite the below average wages that both groups are paid. The Perdue Administration is putting your retirement health care benefits in jeopardy, and they aren’t telling you about it.

Why?

GASB 45: A new position by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), called GASB 45, says states with health insurance plans for retirees (educators or employees) should show the potential unfunded 30 years liability for these plans in their states’ annual financial reports. Over 30 years, this is a large number, but only because Georgia pays its share of retiree health premiums through the employer rate for active employees on an annual basis (called PAYGO for pay as you go). This is paying when you incur the expense. GASB 45 wants the anticipated obligation shown. The current employer health insurance rate is related to the employer share for everyone, active and retired, in the health benefit plan. It does not relate solely to active employees.

And, under funding of the health care prog. for the past 4 years to build Perdue’s reserves would be exposed (employee and retiree rates went up over 40%, the employer rate less than 20%/).

So why would your current retiree health benefits be at risk?
The Perdue Administration is using GASB 45 as an excuse for shifting the employer (state) share of retiree healthcare to the retirement system and to retirees.

Why? Several reasons:
1. The Governor isn’t fond of contractual benefits and has had the Department of Community Health (DCH), whose board he appoints and which sets rate and benefit structure for the healthcare plans, ask the Attorney General’s office (AG) for an opinion on retiree contractual rights. This request was withdrawn when it seemed apparent that retiree’s contractual rights would be upheld by the AG.
2. The Governor doesn’t want state funds spent on his retiree obligations; he gets no public credit for fulfilling that obligation. It has been more important to put over $700 million in the reserve.
3. The Governor’s three top advisors, (Chief of Staff John Watson, Chief Financial Officer Tommy Hills, and Chief Operating Officer Jim Lentz), are all from the private sector, are not career public employees and, therefore, didn’t plan for their retirement based on public sector salaries. Ergo, do you think they’ve support your retiree benefits? Nope !
4. But primarily he is more worried about a triple A bond rating than retired teachers.

How Can He Do it?
If the AG would have ruled that you have a contractual right, then how could the Governor’s administration cut his costs and your benefits?
1. Remember, he controls the DCH board and that board sets your premium rate ( monthly premium could go as high as $700 per month on some proposals his staff has seen).
2. And, he could also alter:
- Your co-pay amount per healthcare visit
- Your prescription co-pay
- The amount paid per procedure, to the point even fewer physicians would participate,
- Or, give each person a nominal healthcare allowance per year. Go over it…any major care or emergency…and you pay more on all of the cost!

As Important!
The Perdue Administration haws been working on this for over a year. He has had DCH, The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, the AG’s Office and the retirement systems all involved in this and looking at ways to shift health care costs to retirees. And, he hasn’t involved any retired teachers, professors or other state employees in these discussions nor advised them of the effects of any of these proposals. None of the professional or retiree associations have been involved, not even to alert them as to the consequences of these proposals on individual retirees. This whole issue has been kept secret by the Administration! They will spring in on you after the election!!!

If you are a teacher remember:
The Perdue Administration’s Oxymoron: Cut out state education funding for over 5,000 teachers and claim that you reduced class size. (WOW - the dropout rate must have really gone up)!
But, by golly we have that $700 million plus surplus.
And! When the General Assembly found revenues the Governor’s Staff missed, the Governor reduced his revenue estimates by over $200 million crying no money, and then had over $300 million in surplus revenues. (oh yes, when he cut the revenue estimate, the funds were cut from the Department of Education)!
But remember, he’s an education (?) Governor

To Check this out, send an “Open Records Request” to:

OPB Director (Phone: 404-656-3820; email: shelley.nickel@opb.state.ga.us; fax: 404-656-3828
Governor’s Office (Phone: 404-656-1776 or http://www.gov.state.ga.us/contact_dom.shtml
DCH (Phone: 404-656-4507; email: none listed on web page, call the tel. number)

And ask for correspondence, memos and letters between the above entities related to retiree health insurance and/or GASB 45

WHO YOU VOTE FOR IS YOUR DECISION, BUT BE INFORMED ON WHAT THEY ARE NOT TELLING

This is also chronicled at Blog for Democracy: http://www.blogfordemocracy.org

Teacher's retirement benefits to be cut?

Two different sources tell me that Perdue’s latest budget contains significant cuts in Georgia teacher’s retirement benefits. The Governor's budget has been a heavily guarded secret so, until this hits the press, this is only a rumor.

If true, this could be the bombshell needed to force Perdue back below 50%. However, if most of the electorate has (as I suspect), already tuned out the election noise, this might be too little, too late for the Taylor campaign. The only hope is for the Big Guy to hit Perdue with this in tomorrow's debate.

2 comments:

Tina said...

OMG OMG !! Please don't mess with my retirement benefits, Sonny !

Tina said...

The Georgia Retired Educators Association is on this with both feet. I hope that GAE and PAGE are too.