Administration Bills to be heard next week in House Committee

TSEA April 1, 2015 0
Administration Bills to be heard next week in House Committee

The House State Government subcommittee today passed an amended longevity bill on to the full committee. The bill will be heard by the full House State Government committee on April 7.

IMPORTANT: The amended bill keeps Longevity pay as is for current state employees. No current state employee will see any changes to their longevity pay from this bill.

Also, the original budget proposal allocated $47.7 million for salary increases, which included one-half of the longevity funds ($15.4 million). The amended bill reduces funding for salary increases to $32 million.

Furthermore, beginning in January, a Pay-For-Performance (or Merit Pay) system will be implemented. As the bill moves through committee, the details of this system will likely be determined.

TSEA worked long and hard to protect this benefit for current state employees. And, thanks to your phone calls, emails, and in-person visits across the state, legislators had the confidence to voice their concerns to the Governor about both the Longevity Bill and the Health Insurance Bill. This generated enough pressure on the Administration to result in both bills being amended to remove current employees prior to the bills leaving their first assigned subcommittees, which is encouraging.

But, our work is far from done.

While the proposed amendments keep certain protections in place for current state employees, it completely strips benefits for your future coworkers. 

What Can You Do?

HB647 – Longevity Bill

The bill that would eliminate Longevity Pay for the majority of state employees was passed out of the House State Government Subcommittee today and will be before the full House State Government Committee for consideration next Tuesday, April 7th.

An amendment brought forth by the Haslam Administration was adopted today changed the original bill so that longevity will remain as is for all current state employees. However, longevity pay will no longer be offered to employees hired after June 30, 2015.

Here are a few points you can mention in your email or on your phone call:

  • Eliminating Longevity for future state employees limits our ability to recruit or retain talented, quality workers for Tennessee.
  • Future employees will have no statutorily guaranteed cost of living adjustments or pay increases.

This creates a second class of state employees.

HB648 – State Employee Health Insurance Changes

This bill is expected to be discussed by the full House State Government Committee next Tuesday, April 7th. Since its introduction, HB648 has been amended to remove a few of the provisions TSEA found most troubling. Currently, employee state workers are exempt from the changes this bill proposes, but it will still drastically reduce the insurance benefits of anyone hired after June 30, 2015.

Among the many changes that would occur, your future coworkers will not have retiree health insurance benefits from the state.

Here are a few points you can mention in your email or on your phone call:

  • Ask them why there is a rush to do this immediately? Urge them to study this bill over the summer to understand the full impact of the legislation.
  • Tell them if this bill passes, a retiree health insurance plan will no longer be available from the state for future state employees.
  • Let them know that by continuing to reduce benefits for future employees, the state is essentially creating a second-class of state employees. Someday, not long from now, two state employees with similar jobs and similar pay will figure out that one of them has an inferior pension plan and no retirement health insurance options from the state.
  • If they mention funding, let them know that HB648 doesn’t impact the budget this year.

You may also want to add that the sales tax collections in February marked the seventh consecutive month this fiscal year in which collections exceeded budgeted expectations. February collections were $25.8 million more than the state budgeted for the month, and approx. $385 million more than budgeted over last 7 months.

If they mention excise tax requirements, tell them that the IRS is still developing regulatory guidance regarding the excise tax. This provides legislators with an opportunity to study the bill and suggest amendments based on whatever regulation guidance the IRS develops.

We ask that if you are a constituent of a member of the House State Government Committee, you continue to call your legislators and express your concerns with these bills and their effects on state employees, now and in the future.

CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR LEGISLATORS

IMPORTANT – ONLY CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS. And when you call, tell them your address so they can verify you are their constituent.

PLEASE DO NOT CALL LEGISLATORS IN OTHER DISTRICTS. Calling Legislators from other districts could be counter-productive to our efforts, as legislators begin to assume all calls are from outside their districts and they stop listening to our concerns.

TSEA will continue to keep you updated and informed as more information is made available.

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