Monday, February 27, 2012

Urge Senate Opposition to HB 576 and HB 1129/Roanoke Rally Information

The Senate passed by HB 576, the teacher contract bill, today. As the budget will be presented tomorrow, this may delay the final vote until at least Wednesday. Please continue calls and emails urging your Senator to vote against HB 576.

The Senate Finance Committee will take up HB 1129 tomorrow morning. This bill will reduce future retirement benefits by cutting the formula from 1.7% to 1.6%, capping the COLA at 3 rather than 5 years, calculating the final average salary calculation based on the highest 5 years rather than 3, and withholding the COLA from early retirees.

Here are talking points:

HB1129 punishes current employees by reducing the estimated pension benefits. Under the provisions of this bill, a retiree ten years into retirement will receive a benefit approximately 10% below current plan benefits. This percentage increases with time.

• There is no requirement that any estimated savings in HB1129 be used to offset the unfunded liability.

• All efforts in the GA are aimed at punishing employees for the lack of payments made by the GA, and do little to help the unfunded liability.

• In 2010, plan 2 was supposed to correct the deficiencies in VRS. We are back 2 years later because they did not fix the problems, and we will be back every 2 years until the GA stops underfunding VRS.

• Punishing employees by reducing what modest benefits employees now receive is not the way to fix VRS. VRS can only be fixed by the GA living up to its responsibilities.

• Virginia pays less than half of the national average toward the pension costs of employees, as a percentage of the state budget.

• The General Assembly has failed to fund the VRS teacher fund at the rate recommended by the VRS Board 18 of the past 21 years.

• Modifying the defined benefit retirement plans will likely diminish plan’s effectiveness in recruitment and retention. Any additional benefit reductions without offsetting salary or benefit increases will make our school divisions’ total compensation packages further out of the competitive range for prospective new hires.
Please click here to write your senator urging opposition to HB 1129.

Click here to access an Pension Alert flier to share with your colleagues.

In previous post, I provided information regarding the March 3 rallies in Virginia Beach and Charlottesville. Here is the information about a third one in Roanoke:

Wake Up Call for Public Education
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
(1 Block behind the Higher Education Center: Center & Henry Street)
Roanoke, Virginia
March 3, Noon