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Connecticut Legislation Pending on Teacher Retirements

BFT members are encouraged to support two bills before the legislature that could greatly improve retirement benefits for teachers. Below is the information for SB 28 and SB 342.

*** BILL S.B. 28 AND WHY IT CONCERNS YOU ***

 

DID YOU KNOW?

 

  • Connecticut is one of only five states in the nation that fully taxes the pensions of its teachers. As a result, one need not wonder why one fourth of our retired teachers move out of state, proven by the fact that 26% of pension checks are mailed out of state. They are motivated, at least in part, to escape the high income tax burden in Connecticut. In proposing an income tax exemption that phases in a 50% exemption over the next two years on retired teachers’ pension income, Governor Malloy is not only addressing “a very basic tax unfairness,” this initiative would also be bringing Connecticut in line with 45 other states.

VERY PERTINENT INFORMATION IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED
IN THE DEBATE ON THE MERITS OF [BILL SB 28's] PROPOSAL:

  • First, it is misleading to compare the average teacher pensions ($47,000.00) with state employee average pensions ($30,000.00) as some have done. State employees range from highly skilled professionals to unskilled laborers while all teachers are professionals who must first pass state exams in respective subject areas, have an initial bachelor’s degree and mandatory post graduate degree to maintain certification.
  • Lawmakers should also keep in mind that retired teachers are not unionized and must rely on legislative action for their retirement benefits. It is a stressful existence to have to worry about your retirement benefits in your old age after having followed the rules and having paid for these benefits during your teaching career. This is not an exaggerated claim. Since 2010 the state legislature has underfunded the Health Insurance Premium Account by $170 million due to Connecticut’s fiscal issues which, according to the fiscal projections of the Teacher’s Retirement Board, will result in withdrawals exceeding contributions as soon as 2018. Lawmakers tell us this will never happen, but every year due to the state’s budget shortfall, the state’s contribution to our health funds is among the first to be cut.
  • Another most significant fact in the discussion surrounding lowering taxes on our pensions, and one the public should be aware of, is that Connecticut teachers cannot receive Social Security, not even from their spouse who paid into it. The only social security benefits retired teachers can claim is if they worked a second job part-time outside of public education, or worked prior to entering the teaching profession. Even then, if they do qualify for Social Security benefits in this manner, those benefits are significantly reduced (50% or more) by federal law. In the case of many of our ARTC members, the pension is all they have to live on.
  • The average teacher pensions are $47,000 (with some as low as…$18,000) and state employee average pensions $30,000.00, but trying to compare the two is like comparing apples and oranges. Keep in mind that state employees range from highly skilled professionals to unskilled laborers, while all teachers are professionals who must first pass state exams in respective subject areas, have an initial bachelor’s degree and mandatory post graduate degree to maintain certification.
  • Of benefit to the general public, this proposal (SB 28) also has the potential of injecting additional consumer spending into Connecticut’s economy. The most recent research (2009) by the National Institute on Retirement Security finds that each dollar paid out in pension benefits supports $1.34 in total economic activity in the state. Furthermore, every dollar “invested” by Connecticut taxpayers in pension plans supports $4.05 in total economic activity in the state.

As Tom Singleton, President of the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut, notes: “One wonders, what message are we sending as a state to today’s teachers, who currently pay 6% of their salary into their pension fund and an additional 1.25% into a Health Insurance Premium Account (HIPA) to ensure peace of mind in retirement? They won’t be able to collect social security and that even a modest reduction in taxes to our pension becomes political fodder because it’s an election year.”

WHAT DO UNION MEMBERS NEED TO DO?

The above information was taken from Tom Singleton’s RECENT testimony before the Finance Committee. While the bill is out of committee, your help is needed to pass this bill. Contact your representatives and ask them to support this bill.

FINANCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS

BRISTOL

Rep. Christopher Wright: http://www.housedems.ct.gov/WrightC/

 

BRISTOL, NEW BRITAIN, PLAINVILLE

Rep. Betty Boukus: http://www.housedems.ct.gov/boukus/

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 *** BILL S.B. 342 AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ***

SB 342 concerns the Retired Teachers Health Insurance Premium Account (aka HIPA). It is, according to Tom Singleton, President of the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut, “a positive step toward reversing a pattern of underfunding our HIPA account over the past several years.” Below is an excerpt from testimony he made before the Appropriations Committee on March 07, 2014.

It is important to note that retired teachers do not have the protection of union negotiated, contractual retiree benefits as do all state employees. Active and retired teachers contribute more than 2/3 the cost of the health care benefits and rely on legislative actions for the balance.

 Though the HIPA fund had been fiscally sound from 2004 to 2010, it has been underfunded since. The current language allows for automatic diversion of federal reimbursement funds (RDS) from the HIPA to being used as part of the State’s contribution to the fund. This happens without any input from [committees] or the legislature. As a result, while legislatures worked hard to restore to ¼ funding last year—the actual state contribution was 1/8 instead of ¼.   If an additional $2 million is transferred out of HIPA, as recently recommended, the actual state contribution for this year drops to 10% instead of 25% or 33%.

 This continuing pattern of funding is fiscally unsound and makes retired and active teachers—[86,000 in all]—feel like the HIPA has become a convenient piggy bank to shore up budget shortfalls. The process of funding HIPA needs to be more transparent for all and the current proposed legislation (SB 342) will greatly enhance that process.

WHAT DO UNION MEMBERS NEED TO DO?

This bill (S.B. 342) is currently still in committee. In order for a vote to take place, it has to be taken OUT of committee. Contact your representatives and ask them to move the bill OUT OF COMMITTEE to the legislature

APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE MEMBERS

BRISTOL

Frank Nicastro: http://www.housedems.ct.gov/Nicastro/

 

BRISTOL, PLYMOUTH

Whit Betts: http://cthousegop.com/whit-betts/

 

FARMINGTON

Beth Bye: http://www.senatedems.state.ct.us/Bye.php

 

WHETHER YOU CALL OR EMAIL, BELOW ARE SOME TIPS

o   Introduce yourself

o   You are a constituent from…

o   You are an active/retired teacher, spouse of a teacher, etc…

  • Thank them for having a hearing on these bills.
  • Ask them to please support/pass/move out of committee to legislature the bills mentioned above…
  • Highlight some of what Tom Singleton brought up in his testimony. Be aware of the following:

o   For S.B. 28

  • CT is one of only five states that FULLY TAXES teachers’ pensions
  • Teachers in CT are UNFAIRLY penalized in regards to their social security benefits
  • One of only 15 states that has the WEP/GPO penalties.

o   The EWP (Windfall Elimination Provision) causes teachers to lose up to two-thirds of their social security benefits.

o   With the GPO (Government Pension Offset), most teachers will lose their entire spousal benefit upon the death of a spouse.

o   For S.B. 342

  • Transparency is one major purpose of this bill.
  • State lawmakers need to be/want to be aware each budget year as to how the federal reimbursement for Medicare Part D is being applied.  Is it put in as part of the state’s contribution to the HIPA OR IN ADDITION TO the state’s contribution?
 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in BFT Members, Uncategorized

 

AFT Conventions

The AFT CT and AFT (National) will hold conventions in the coming months. First up is the AFT CT annual convention on Saturday, May 17 from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Aqua Turf in Southington.

The AFT (National) will hold its bienniel convention in Los Angeles from July 11-13.

Members interested in being convention delegates should contact BFT President Dave Hayes by May 1, 2014.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in BFT Members

 

Tags:

Free Summer Professional Development Offered by AFT CT

CONNTEACH

Topics Include:

Bullying

Share My Lesson

Family Engagement

Instructive “Tips” for

Common Core

Safe Discipline

Wednesday August 6, 2014
8:00am—3:00pm
WHERE
Sheraton Hartford South
100 Capital Boulevard, Rocky Hill, CT 06067

Organized by AFT CT

AFT CT
35 Marshall Rd.
Rocky Hill, CT 06067
Phone: 860-257-9782
Fax: 860-257-8214

More information, as well as how to register, will be
available as we get closer to the date.
Please contact Anna with questions: ACerritelli@aftct.org

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

New CCT; Online Forum to discuss SBAC; Common Core Survey

The State Department of Education (SDE)has released the new Common Core of Teaching (CCT) rubric this week, and many Bristol administrators have presented them to staff. The revised CCT is the outcome of discussions within PEAC (Performance Evaluation Advisory Committee), a consortium of stakeholders including representatives from AFT CT, NEA, CABE, CAPSS, and the SDE. The documents are below.

 

CCT_Rubric_For_Effective_Teaching_final 03-21-14 docx (2)

CCT Rubric 2014 Summary 3 10 14

At_a_Glance_Card_CCT RUBRIC FOR EFFECTIVE TEACHING 2014_

In other news, the Teacher’s College from Columbia University has created an online forum to discuss SBAC and other standardized testing that is occurring around the nation. Have your say at:

http://testingtalk.org/

 

Finally, a chance to participate in a survey about common core…

 

As you know from previous updates, the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce is working to address and resolve issues resulting from poor and inconsistent implementation of the new teaching standards. Their efforts are a direct result of AFT Connecticut members raising their voices and working through their union to respond to rapidly changing conditions in their classrooms.

But we still need additional input from teachers. That’s why we are asking you to take a survey on implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

Click here to access the survey online today.

The results will help the task force, which includes six members of AFT Connecticut-affiliated unions, accomplish its mission. Your responses to this survey will be anonymous and assist these education professionals to better understand how these standards should work before they count.

More to come, and in solidarity,

Melodie Peters
President, AFT Connecticut

Steve McKeever
First Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

Patti Fusco
Pre-K-12 Jurisdictional Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

P.S. Click here to watch video of last week’s first meeting of the task force.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Deadline to Submit AFT Scholarships Extended to April 11, 2014

AFT Connecticut awards two scholarship annually; one for union members’ own educational pursuits and the other for their spouses, domestic partners or children.

Click below for information on both AFT Connecticut scholarships, access to downloadable application forms and instructions.

As affiliates of the national AFT, members are also eligible for one of 10 grants of $1,000 each to assist with their continuing education. Plus their dependents may apply for an $8,000 scholarship awarded each year to four high-achieving high school seniors.

Click here for information on the national AFT scholarship benefits, including instructions and access to apply online.

But hurry — the deadline for both AFT Connecticut scholarships is now Friday, April 11, 2014.

http://aftct.org/aft-connecticut-scholarship

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Teacher Evaluation Update

Leaders and members of AFT Connecticut unions were hard at work this week in continued response to teachers’ concerns over the impact of changes to public education in our state. We’d like to provide a brief update on two critical fronts.

First, negotiations with the State Department of Education and the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) to improve teacher evaluation guidelines are continuing. Our coalition of public education advocates again met this week for ongoing discussions aimed at specific recommendations.

The specific focus and goal remains more equitable evaluation guidelines. We will continue these good faith negotiations that the PEAC process has made possible until we resolve the many issues resulting from the evaluation conundrum.

Second, the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce created earlier this month by Governor Malloy, and which includes six members of AFT Connecticut-affiliated unions, held its first meeting. The group focused on its mission, which is to address and resolve issues resulting from shoddy implementation of the new teaching standards, and agreed upon five principle objectives:

Defining what the Common Core State Standards actually are and are not;
Writing, integrating, and revising classroom curricula for the standards;
Developing instructional competencies to assure the standards are working as intended;
Assessing community engagement needs to address parent concerns and public misinformation regarding the standards; and
Determining actual resource needs for districts in order to assure new standards can be effectively implemented.
The task force also set an ambitious schedule of bi-weekly meetings over the next three months in order to meet their deadline of developing concrete recommendations by June 30.

More to come, and in solidarity,

Melodie Peters
President, AFT Connecticut

Steve McKeever
First Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

Patti Fusco
Pre-K-12 Jurisdictional Vice-President, AFT Connecticut

P.S. Click here for news coverage of the Common Core task force’s first meeting, which includes comments from Colchester Federation of Teachers member Barbara Johnson.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

State Budget Education Advances

Appropriations Committee Budget

FY 2015

March 27, 2014

The Appropriations Committee issued its FY 2015 budget proposal today.  With fund lapses, carry forwards and varying appropriations, it is $12.338M more

than the adjusted FY 2015 budget the Governor presented on February 5, 2014.

Once the committee votes on its proposal, formal negotiations will begin between legislative leadership and the Governor’s office.  A final compromise budget is expected to be passed before the legislative session adjourns May 7.

Below are the key highlights of the Appropriations Committee budget proposal that impact AFT Connecticut members.  You can read the entire document here:  http://www.housedems.ct.gov/pubs/Appropriations_Committee_Budget_FY15_Midterm_Adjustments_03-27-14.pdf.  As more details become available, we will share them with you.

The Appropriations Committee budget plan would:

  • Deposit an additional $100 million payment toward the state’s pension fund.
  • Exempt 50% of teachers’ pensions from state income tax.
  • Restore the Earned Income Tax Credit to 30%.
  • Issue a targeted gas and sales tax refund to Connecticut taxpayers, returning $55 to individuals, earning less than $200,000 and $110 to joint filers earning less than $400,000.
  • Exempt clothing under $50 and non-prescription drugs from sales tax.
  • Provide a municipal exemption from the insurance premiums tax on health plans.

 

PreK-12

  • $7.553M more than the Governor’s proposal for ECS grants, plus an additional $500K for West Hartford (Improved from Governor’s Proposal).
  • $14M for approximately 1,020 new Pre-K slots and a 4% increase in the full-day, full-year reimbursement rate from $8,346 to $8,670 per child.  It assumes 70% of the slots will have placements as of July 1, 2014 with the remaining 30% being filled by October 1, 2014.  The stated goal in the budget is to reach universal Pre-K in 2019, with access being phased in and priority given to low income three and four year olds (Improved from Governor’s Proposal).
  • $2.3M in startup costs and planning for universal access to Pre-K:  $22,500 for each classroom and $1.1M for planning grants (Same as Governor’s Proposal).
  • $478,433 for 7 new educational consultant positions at SDE phased in over FY 2015 (Improved from Governor’s Proposal).
  • $1,728,500 for CTHSS (Improved from Governor’s Proposal).

o   24 full-time maintenance positions

o   5 full-time school nurses

o   10 special educators

o   2 English Language Learner Instructors

o   Increases authorized position count by 15 to reflect moving instructor positions from durational to full-time, but no additional funding for these positions.

  • Transfer $250K from Treasurer’s Debt Service Account to the City of New Haven to support the Eli Whitney Pilot Program for youth services (Improved from Governor’s Proposal).
  • Transfer $92,000 from Treasurer’s Debt Service Account to support the Sound School in New Haven (Improved from Governor’s Proposal).
  • $469K additional to increase Family Resource Center grants by $5K and establish an FRC at Winthrop Elementary Magnet School in New London (Improvement from Governor Proposal).
  • Reduction of $3.9M in Talent Development at SDE to reflect changes in the new teacher evaluation system (Improvement from Governor’s Proposal).
  • Transfer $563K from DSS to SDE for after school programs (Improvement from Governor’s Proposal).
  • Transfer $1M from the Tobacco Settlement Fund for Interdistrict Grant programs to the After School program to fund programs in New Haven, Waterbury, Meriden, Bridgeport, Stamford, New Britain, East Hartford and Windham (Improved from Governor’s Proposal).
  • $10M for a third round of district school security grants. CTHSS and RESCs will also be eligible for these grants (Same as Governor’s Proposal).
  • $7.6M for new one-year Sheff settlement, including $1.3M for Sand Lighthouse School (Same as Governor’s Proposal).
  • Additional $500K in priority school district funding for Norwalk (Improved from Governor’s Proposal).
  • Cut $6.5M from Teacher Retiree Healthcare Fund due to the decrease in the monthly premium equivalent rate in the TRB basic health plan (medical and Rx) from $350 to $291 (Same as Governor’s Proposal).

CommPACT schools remain funded at 475,000 (Same as Governor’s Proposal).

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Alliance District, BFT Members

 
 
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