The House State Government subcommittee passed HB648 on Wednesday, which is the bill that would reduce health insurance benefits for state employees, on to the full House State Government committee. The bill will be heard by the full committee on Tuesday, March 30th.
Prior to passing HB648, the subcommittee included an amendment with the bill, which was filed by the administration in response to objections and concerns from TSEA, TEA, and many members of the legislature, that removes some of the provisions most harmful to current state employees, e.g., the reductions in amounts paid by the state for dependent coverage of plan participants.
TSEA has been working night and day fighting the Governor’s proposals on longevity and insurance since the legislation was filed. That effort has already resulted in both bills being been amended and being improved, but we will continue to fight to kill both bills.
What can you do?
IMPORTANT: The reason we ask you to email and call your legislators is because your elected officials are motivated by YOU, their constituents. Every day we speak to, educate, and inform your elected officials, but our efforts ring hollow if you, as a constituent, do not also contact your legislators to let them know these are important issues for you.
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.
HB647 – Longevity Bill
The bill that would eliminate Longevity Pay for the majority of state employees, due to time constraints was not heard by the subcommittee on Wednesday. We expect the committee to hear this bill next Wednesday, April 1.