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Posts tagged ‘retired teachers’ health insurance fund’

Retired Teachers Applaud Legislative Funding, Ready to Stay Active and Engaged

CEA Executive Director Donald Williams thanked CEA-Retired members for reaching out to their legislators in such great numbers.

“Those of you who went to retired lobby day, who reached out to your legislators, I can’t thank you enough,” CEA Executive Director Donald Williams told members of CEA-Retired gathered for their annual spring meeting this morning. “You made a tremendous difference and had a big impact on the legislature this year.”

In the budget that passed the Connecticut General Assembly late last night, legislators designated $16 million for the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund—contributing their full share for the first time in many years. While the state is supposed to contribute one-third of the fund’s actuarially required amount and retired teachers and active teachers each contribute one-third, the state has not been funding its share recently—putting the fund on the precipice of bankruptcy.

“Full state funding for the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund has been one of our top priorities in recent years,” Williams said. “Thank you for your great work.” Read more

Underfunding by Legislature Leads to Changes to Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance

A change to the retired teachers’ health insurance program that was adopted by the State Teachers’ Retirement Board (TRB) this month will impact retired teachers and spouses who are on—or will soon be on—the TRB’s Medicare supplement (65 and older) plan.

The new base plan will actually have a lower premium ($134 per person, per month) and it will be a Medicare Advantage plan through Anthem. The TRB will continue to offer the current Stirling plan, but it will be a buy-up, at $259 per person, per month, for the full package that includes drugs, dental, vision, and hearing coverage. Read more

Statement from CEA President Sheila Cohen on Governor’s Teacher Retirement Budget Proposal

Connecticut State Capitol BuildingGovernor Malloy’s budget proposal recognizes the value of Connecticut teachers and the state’s financial obligation to them, but the plan to create a partnership for teacher pension contributions with cities and towns must be viewed with extreme caution. The plan could have serious consequences for our students, our families, and our communities.

As a result of this proposal, cities and towns could cut education budgets, resulting in cuts to classes and other educational programs, teacher layoffs, and larger class sizes for our students. This plan would have unintended, long-term consequences on all of our students. A similar plan was explored more than 20 years ago, and legislators rejected it then. The examination and scrutiny of the plan that was done then must be done now.

We applaud the governor for recognizing the need to continue to fulfill his promise to educators by addressing the state’s obligation to the retired teachers’ healthcare fund and by reducing the state income tax on teacher pensions.

Active and retired teachers have always contributed the lion’s share to the healthcare fund, and their contributions have never wavered. We are pleased that the governor has put forth a plan that recognizes the need for Connecticut to keep its promise to our dedicated educators. Our teachers, who have committed their lives to teaching students—the future of our state—deserve nothing less.

State Teachers’ Retirement System Posts Impressive Investment Return

State Treasurer Denise Nappier recently announced that the State Teachers’ Retirement Fund realized an investment return of 15.67 percent. That exceeded the actuarial investment assumption of 8.5 percent. Nappier also noted that the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, which includes the State Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement Fund, and 13 other funds, added $4.15 billion of investment gains to pension assets in fiscal year 2014. After net withdrawals, the fund ended the fiscal year with assets of $29.4 billion — a $3.5 billion net increase from the previous year.

“What is noteworthy about our investment experience over the past five years is that pension fund assets have grown at a faster pace than the payment of benefits and other expenses,” Nappier said. “In light of the State’s significant unfunded pension liability, the substantial growth of the fund assets is good news for its beneficiaries and taxpayers.”

The State Teachers’ Retirement Board’s actuary is in the process of preparing the valuation report which provides an updated assessment of the unfunded liability every other year. The report is expected to be presented to the Retirement Board at its November meeting.

Read the press release from the State Treasurer’s office.

 

Funding for Public Education and Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund

Earlier this legislative session retired teachers came to Hartford to urge legislators to preserve the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund today. Pictured left to right are Don Demers, John Battista, Mike Lingaro, Karin Pyskaty, CEA President Sheila Cohen, Jane Shugg, Mary-Jo Vocke, Rhea Klein, Ronald Green, Fonda Green, Bill Murray, and Walt Liplinski.

Earlier this legislative session retired teachers came to Hartford to urge legislators to preserve the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund. Pictured left to right are Don Demers, John Battista, Mike Lingaro, Karin Pyskaty, CEA President Sheila Cohen, Jane Shugg, Mary-Jo Vocke, Rhea Klein, Ronald Green, Fonda Green, Bill Murray, and Walt Liplinski.

Many important bills, including the state budget, were debated and passed in the 2013 legislative session that adjourned at midnight last night. Thanks to the hard work of CEA active and retired members, the House and Senate voted to keep the Appropriations Committee funding for the retired teachers’ health insurance fund in the final budget.

We are heartened that the General Assembly recognizes the importance of maintaining the state’s commitment to the fund and has moved in the right direction by including a 25% contribution that will keep the fund stabilized for the short term. Next session, CEA will continue to lobby the legislature and underscore the critical nature of funding the state’s entire 33.3% required contribution.

See how your senator and representative voted. If your legislator voted for the budget, please call and thank him or her for helping to stabilize the retired teachers’ health insurance fund. You can look up your legislators here.

  • House Democrats: 1-800-842-1902
  • House Republicans: 1-800-842-1423
  • Senate Democrats: 1-800-842-1420
  • Senate Republicans: 1-800-842-1421

In other education budget news, municipalities will receive a slight increase in education funding, with the lion’s share going to Alliance Districts, and there’s a budget increase to implement reforms such as the new evaluation system and the Common Core.

Budget Includes 25% Contribution to Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund

The legislature’s Appropriations Committee today released its budget, which includes a 25% state contribution to the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

State law requires the state to make a 33.3% contribution to the fund, but the governor and legislature can override this law. The original budget proposal would have completely eliminated the state’s contribution to the health fund for the next two years — short-changing the fund by over $70 million.

We are heartened that the Appropriations Committee recognizes the importance of maintaining the state’s commitment to the fund and has moved in the right direction by including a 25% contribution that will keep the fund stabilized for the short term.

The Appropriations Committee budget still has to be considered by the full Senate and House of Representatives and much could change. Please continue to be in touch with your legislators to underscore the critical nature of funding the state’s entire 33.3% required contribution.

Thank the members of the Appropriations Committee for taking steps in the right direction, and continue to call your state representative and state senator and ask them to ensure that the final state budget includes the state’s full 33.3% contribution to the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund. You can look up your legislators here.

  • House Democrats: 1-800-842-1902
  • House Republicans: 1-800-842-1423
  • Senate Democrats: 1-800-842-1420
  • Senate Republicans: 1-800-842-1421

Read additional details about the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund here.

Stay tuned for more details on other aspects of the Appropriations Committee budget.

Teachers Continue to Contact Their Legislators and Urge You to Do the Same

Naugutuck teacher Anthony Scorge told Governor Malloy

Naugatuck High teacher Anthony Sorge asked Governor Malloy why he had proposed eliminating funding to the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund at a recent meeting in Naugatuck.

Your colleagues have made numerous calls urging legislators to continue the state’s contribution to the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund. Please join your colleagues and keep up the effort.

The legislature’s Appropriations Committee is still weighing  whether state dollars will be put into the fund for the next two years and every call makes a difference.

Naugatuck teachers are among the many who are speaking to elected officials about this important issue. At a recent town hall meeting in Naugatuck, teachers told Governor Malloy about the impact the cut in funding would have on them.

Naugatuck High School teacher Anthony Sorge asked the governor why he has proposed eliminating state funding to the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund. The governor said that the state is still experiencing difficult economic times and mentioned that the legislature can decide to move money around and reinstate dollars to the fund.

Retired teacher Jeanne Scheithe told Malloy she is concerned about the impact on teh

Retired teacher Jeanne Scheithe told Malloy she is concerned about the impact on the fund of eliminating the state’s contribution for two years.

Jeanne Scheithe, a retired Naugatuck teacher, raised concerns about the impact that the elimination of state dollars two years in row would have on the fund  — especially on top of the reduced state contribution to the fund this year and last.

Thank you to the Naugatuck teachers and everyone else who have been calling, emailing, and meeting with your elected officials. Teachers’ voices are being heard.

Please continue to call your state representative and state senator and ask them to ensure that the budget restores state funding to the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund. You can look up your legislators here.

  • House Democrats: 1-800-842-1902
  • House Republicans: 1-800-842-1423
  • Senate Democrats: 1-800-842-1420
  • Senate Republicans: 1-800-842-1421

Read additional details about the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund here.

Educators Unite to Protect the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund

Nearly 30 retired teachers came to Hartford to urge legislators to preserve the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund today. Pictured left to right are Don Demers, John Battista, Mike Lingaro, Karin Pyskaty, CEA President Sheila Cohen, Jane Shugg, Mary-Jo Vocke, Rhea Klein, Ronald Green, Fonda Green, Bill Murray, and Walt Liplinski.

Nearly 30 retired teachers came to Hartford to urge legislators to preserve the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund today. Pictured left to right are Don Demers, John Battista, Mike Ungoro, Karin Pyskaty, CEA President Sheila Cohen, Jane Shugg, Mary-Jo Vocke, Rhea Klein, Ronald Green, Fonda Green, Bill Murray, and Walt Ciplinski.

“I paid $15,000 a year out of my pocket for health insurance before my wife and I turned 65 and were eligible for Medicare.”

“Retired teachers are on fixed incomes and we don’t get Social Security, so increases in our health care insurance costs are difficult to manage.”

“Both active and retired teachers have been paying more than their fair share—now it’s time for the state to keep its promise and continue funding the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund.”

Those are just some of the comments from nearly 30 retired teachers who attended an Appropriations Committee hearing at the State Legislative Office Building in Hartford today to show their support and urge legislators to preserve the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund.

The governor’s budget proposal eliminates the state’s contribution to the fund for the next two years.

CEA President Sheila Cohen, testifying before the committee, said the state is not upholding its end of the bargain, and is breaking its promise to active and retired teachers in Connecticut.

“The governor’s plan puts the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance fund in serious jeopardy, and that’s totally unacceptable,” she said.

Cohen added, “Active and retired teachers have always dutifully made their required health insurance contribution with the understanding that it will be there for them when they retire. The state should honor its obligation to Connecticut teachers.”

CEA is urging all teachers—active and retired—to call their legislators and tell them to continue the state’s 33 percent contribution to the fund.

Active teachers contribute 1.25% of their salary annually into the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund—this represents the largest contribution to the fund—over $45 million in 2012-2013.

Retired teachers also contribute to the fund—nearly $38 million in 2012-2013.

Members need to call, email, or write to their legislators and explain how the cuts to the fund would directly affect them.

Call your state representative and state senator and ask them to ensure that the budget restores the state’s funding to the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund. Click here to look up your state legislator.

•  House Democrats: 1-800-842-1902

•  House Republicans: 1-800-842-1423

•  Senate Democrats: 1-800-842-1420

•  Senate Republicans: 1-800-842-1421

Bring Your Classroom to the People Who Make the Laws

From left, retired teacher Gene Schultz, Senator Andrea Stillman, Senator Don Williams, and East Hampton teacher Rob Wyllie.

From left, retired teacher Gene Schultz, Senator Andrea Stillman, Senator Don Williams, and East Hampton teacher Rob Wyllie.

In an ideal world, state lawmakers would be able to visit your classroom to see firsthand the pace of change and the impact of school reform initiatives. But it’s not a perfect world. So, if you want lawmakers to understand the challenges you face and your students confront, then you have to bring your classroom to them.

Lawmakers adopt legislation that can have a big impact in the classroom. In order to have a say in policy decisions, teachers need to maintain connections with legislators and create opportunities for conversations.

That’s exactly what many CEA members are doing this legislative session. And it’s what you can do if you decide to stand up and speak out for your profession.

CEA members across the state are out talking to their legislators and making sure their voices are heard on important issues that affect the teaching profession. Last week, a teacher and a retired teacher met up with Education Committee Chair Senator Andrea Stillman, Senate President Don Williams, and other lawmakers at a meeting of the East Lyme Democratic Town Party.

The committee gave Senator Stillman an award for her dedication and hard work, especially in the area of public education. CEA Retired Advisory Council Member Gene Schultz and East Hampton teacher Rob Wyllie attended to thank Senator Stillman for her efforts and to talk with other legislators.

Wyllie says that when you meet with your legislators, “It puts a face on CEA and teachers. It makes education issues personal.” Legislators have to deal with lots of different issues, not just education, Wyllie says — which is why teacher input is so important.

Hearing personal stories from their own constituents makes a big difference to legislators. You don’t need to know all the details of proposed legislation to talk to your legislator, you just need to talk about how the legislation will affect you.

At the East Lyme event, Schultz took the opportunity to talk to legislators about the need to protect funding for the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund.

Schultz told legislators that the state made a commitment a long time ago to fund a portion of retired teachers’ health insurance. “I go back 57 years being connected to the teaching profession,” he said. “The state made a deal where we retired teachers pay one-third, active teachers pay one-third, and the state pays one-third.”

“There are teachers who retired a long time ago, before the Education Enhancement Act,” he said. “They receive a very small pension. This proposal would hurt them badly.”

Schultz is frequently in contact with his legislators and says that during last year’s legislative session he talked with them weekly. However, he knows that some teachers are hesitant to meet with their legislators.

“I understand because I’d probably feel the same way if I were to meet the president of the United States,” he said. But he reminds teachers, “Your legislators are regular people. They live in your town, their children go to the same schools as yours. It’s like talking to your next door neighbor.”

And if a legislator asks you a question you don’t have an answer to, Schultz says to tell them, “I will find out and get back to you as soon as I can.”

If you are interested in organizing a meeting with legislators for teachers in your local, contact your CEA Local Political Coordinator, UniServ Representative, or CEA Political Action Specialist Conor Casey.

Protecting the Retired Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund is an important issue that CEA members need to be in touch with their legislators about right now. Click here to find out more.

CEA Retirees Spring into Action to Protect the Teachers’ Health Insurance Fund

Retired South Windsor teacher Marcia Baretta, at right, with past Hebron Education Association co-presidents Nancy Millerick (at left), and Althea Carr

From left, retired Hebron teachers and past co-presidents of their local Nancy Millerick and Althea Carr and retired South Windsor teacher Marsha Baretta learned more about the governor’s proposal to eliminate the state’s contribution to the retired teachers’ health insurance fund.

“Active and retired teachers need to get involved in issues of importance to the profession,” said Marsha Baretta, a retired South Windsor teacher. “And right now a key issue is our teachers’ health insurance fund, and it affects all teachers.”

Baretta, who was among a group of retirees at a CEA Retired Regional Member Activist Workshop in Glastonbury today, was talking about the governor’s proposed budget plan that completely eliminates the state’s contribution to the retired teachers’ health insurance fund for the next two years.

Jon-Paul Roden, CEA-Retired president and NEA-Retired Executive Council member, told his colleagues that the governor’s plan puts the retired health insurance fund in jeopardy. He called on the retirees to speak up on the issue and become more politically active. “Do whatever you can and whatever you can fit into your schedules,” said Roden. “It could be making a phone call, talking to other retirees about the issue, sending an email, or writing a letter to legislators—anything that will increase your activism and let your voices be heard.”

Retired  West Hartford teacher Ken Carpenter talks with Judy Baxter, retired Mansfield teacher and CEA local political coordinator.

Retired West Hartford teacher Ken Carpenter talks with Judy Baxter, retired Mansfield teacher and CEA local political coordinator.

CEA Political Action Coordinator Conor Casey told the group to tell their individual stories about how the cuts would impact them. When asked how many attendees had already called their legislators, more than half of those in the room raised their hands.

Many of the retirees, including Ken Carpenter, a retired West Hartford teacher, said their phone calls were taken very seriously.  “My call was transferred to the House Speaker’s office,” said Carpenter. “The Speaker’s aide was very receptive. He listened to my concerns and suggested sending emails or letters that could be given directly to the speaker.”

Casey agreed, telling the group, “Handwritten notes are important because legislators rarely get them and they pay more attention to them.”  He added, “There’s still plenty of opportunities for you to let your voices be heard by calling, emailing, or writing—take your choice, but do something.”

Click here to find out how to contact your legislator.