These are my first comments after the election. I had to take some time to think them through.
When the moderate Republicans were taken out in the primary election, I believed we were in for a bad couple of years. The conservative right wing of the Republican party is emboldened by their wins.
I believe that we will face many legislative challenges in the very near future. We can face them and if you get out and work, we may be able to defeat many of them.
The challenges will begin with the budget. The budget passed in the last session will cripple the vital public services that you provide. The Governor and his staff have already told agencies to plan a budget that cuts spending by 10%.
We may very well see legislation attacking KPERS again. Many were not happy they did not get a true 401(c) type plan last year. Never mind that changing to that type of plan will cost the state more, they simply want to impose their national agenda on us.
Other legislation we may see that we have seen before, is to take our political money deductions away. We can expect to see more attacks on Worker Compensation, weakening collective bargaining, civil service, and labor law in general. We need to prepare for the fight ahead.
We are in the process of planning for expected legislation right now. Meetings have been held with other public sector Unions in the state, with our Internationals, and some community groups.
You as members can help with this when called upon. You belong to many different groups in this state. Your churches, civic organizations, fraternal organization, parent/teacher associations, youth groups, and many, many different groups you are a part of.. You can start by standing up in these organizations and identify yourself as a Union member, make it personal for these groups who know you. They know you are a hardworking, good person, an integral part of their community. If you are good, how can Unions be bad? Make sure your religious leaders know you are a Union member. Most religions have pro-labor positions. Make sure you ask your religious leaders to support workers and the respect and dignity that a Union bring to the workplace.
One thing you as a member should always be doing, is talking to your co-workers about joining and supporting your Union. The Union is you the workers. You elect your co-workers as leaders. You democratically decide how the Union is run. You decide what is asked for in negotiations. You in fact bring democracy to the workplace by being a voice in the workplace.
As the bad legislation arises, it will be up to You to fight it and defeat it. You will need to be a voice with your co-workers. You will need to educate them on what is happening. You will need to agitate them. You will need to organize them into action to protect their rights.
Remember without you there is no Union. The Union is not AFSCME or AFT, or KOSE you are those entities, without you they would not exist- YOU ARE THE UNION.
POLITICO Published 07:11 p.m., Wednesday, June 8, 2011
There is a dignity in the Hoover Dam, a massiveness that speaks to a grand national purpose. A country - our country - decided to build it. As the Hoover Dam was constructed, in the middle of the Great Depression, the nearby city of Las Vegas stretched itself from a sleepy town of 5,000 to accommodate tens of thousands of new residents: the people building the dam and staffing the associated businesses.
In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower embarked on the most aggressive public works project in U.S. history - the jobs-producing interstate highway system. And throughout the 1930s and '40s, the government designed an elaborate set of public financing vehicles to build the great postwar suburban housing stock.
America used to be a country that built things - using public and private resources. Great works of infrastructure provided jobs and returned an incredible social investment. It is inconceivable to imagine the modern economy without the vast investments in infrastructure made by preceding generations - everything from rural electrification to developing the Internet.
So why aren't we building more of it? One way to think about the question is: Why did we build infrastructure in the first place?
The answer is complicated. We need to look to the political coalitions behind our immense public works and ask which coalitions today support the current infrastructure rhetoric. Seen through that lens, the real trend in infrastructure today is not building more of it but privatizing what exists.
After all, building infrastructure implies the ability to build things here and being able to use the power of taxation to finance them. Privatizing infrastructure requires the ability to securitize revenue flows. Which one do you think modern America does better?
Privatization takes inherently governmental functions - everything from national defense to mass transit and roads - and turns them over to the control of private actors, whose goal is to extract maximum revenue while costing as little as possible.
Yesterday, the Senate did not attempt to bring up a motion to reconsider SB 77, which would have put HB 2130 (the Paycheck Deception Act) back into play. Your phone calls and emails were heard and they worked!
Budget: Still going slowly but surely. Again, your phone calls are keeping the Senate going. The Senate is still holding firm on our market adjustments. Conference committee is meeting again this evening, and we will provide you with an update when we have issues and new proposals to report. This is a slow process, but we have to hammer out a budget that doesn't cut our services to the bone, or attacks the work we do. The last day of session is Thursday, but we may be working past that date. After Thursday, the Legislature will not be paid for time spent at the Statehouse. So we can expect resolution soon.
KPERS: Below you will find a brief summary of what is part of this legislation.
Increasing State's Contributions -- Multi-year, Progressively Increasing As Follows: (Current cap on increases is 0.6%)
The cap in annual contributions cap will increase according to the following schedule:
0.9% in FY 2013 1.0% in FY 2014 1.1% in FY 2015 1.2% in FY 2016
This is an amendment from the Senate's version of SB 2194. The Senate substitute bill included only a straightforward increase in the annual contribution cap to 1.1% beginning in 2014. The multi-year strategy was an amendment brought by the House during conference. This doesn't increase the state's contributions as fast as the Senate's substitute bill and continues to kick the can on ending the underfunding, but if the legislature sticks to this strategy, it will bring the state group into ARC by 2021 and the school group into ARC by 2024 according to the KPERS consulting actuary.
Tier I and Tier II KPERS Elections -- It is important to note that there is a high likelihood that each of the election procedures defined by the CCR will not pass IRS muster, moreover, potential review under the Singer holding of the Kansas Supreme Court.
Tier I KPERS Members (Non-KP&F)
Election between (i) increased contribution from 4 to 6% with increased benefit multiplier from 1.75 to 1.85 from 2014 on; or (ii) maintain current contribution rate of 4% but experienced a reduced benefit multiplier of 1.4 from 2014 forward. In the IRS strikes down the election procedure or a member fails to vote, the default position is option (i) (increased contribution and multiplier).
Tier II KPERS Members (Non-KP&F)
Election between (i) maintaining current contribution rate of 6% with a 1.75 multiplier, but entire loss of the current COLA for retirement benefits; or (ii) maintaining current contribution rate of 6% with the maintenance of the COLA for retirement benefits, but experience a reduction in multiplier from 1.75% to 1.4. In the event the IRS finds that the election is not legal, the default position will be
Inactive, Non-Vested & Inactive, Vested Members
Inactive, non-vested members would be placed in the default election category in the event they become active members again. Vested, but inactive members will have a one time choice to elect if and when they become active again.
KPERS Study Commission
13 total members. Five are appointments by the Governor, two of which must be attorneys. Four members are legislators appointed by the majority and minority leadership of the House and Senate. Four are at-large, non-legislator members appointed by the majority and minority leadership of the House and Senate.
This is a shift from the Senate substitute, which provided only 11 members with the Governor receiving three appointments. The House made an offer to ban all KPERS members -- active or inactive -- from participating and granting the Governor five appointments. This was the compromise position -- only granting the Governor five, instead of three, appointments to the study commission.
Trigger language was inserted during the conference committee that requires for the provisions of S Sub 2194 to take effect, one chamber must have a vote on the floor on the recommendations of the KPERS Study Commission and another chamber must at least hold a committee hearing on the recommendations of the Study Commission in the 2012 legislative session.
Sale of State Property
The CCR basically mirrors the House language in H Sub 2333 on the sale of state property, except that instead of 50% of the proceeds realized from the sale of state property, it is now 80% being dedicated to reducing the KPERS' UAL with the remaining 20% being deposited in the SGF. There was an exception made in the CCR for the proceeds realized from the sale of the Olathe Travelers' Information Center.
Save our longevity!
Thursday, 05 May 2011
KOSE Brothers and Sisters,
After all the proposed cuts and increases to health insurance the House is literally trying to balance the budget on the backs of state workers. The House is coming after your longevity!
The Legislature has already eliminated longevity for new hires and even Governor Brownback determined that funding longevity is the right action for long-term state workers and funded the measure at $50 in his budget report. What some in the House are doing is nothing less than a punitive attack on loyal state workers.
The debate is set for tomorrow, Friday, May 6.
Contact the House now and tell them to preserve our longevity!
Senate conference committee members go back into budget negotiations tonight and we need to encourage them to stay strong and protect our market adjustments, longevity and services.
Senate conference committee members are as follows: Sen. Carolyn McGinn (Chair), Sen. John Vratil (Vice Chair) and Sen. Laura Kelly (Ranking member). These Senators need to hear from us and know we support them!
Please contact the Senate conference committee members and thank them for standing with state workers and holding strong to save our market adjustments, longevity and services. These Senators need to hear our thanks!
Kansans for Quality Communities represents educators, school board members, service providers for seniors and those with disabilities, mental health centers, correctional and public safety officers, nurses, and the men and women who plow the snow from our highways. When any Kansan needs assistance, we are the responders.
KQC formed two years ago with the intent of informing the public and the legislature about the value of these vital services and the threats to them in the continuing budget cuts taking place in this building.
We believe in a Kansas that can be recognized by its strong and vibrant communities - communities that work together to support each individual in ways that enrich the entire community.
Governor Brownback said something very similar in one of his signing statements earlier this month. The Governor said, “It is our calling to support the dignity of every human being whether that person is unemployed, uneducated, or unborn.”
It is truly the calling of all Kansans to “support the dignity of every human being” whether that person is a child in our schools, a citizen with a physical or developmental disability in need of assistance, a senior looking to continue living in his or her home, or a public safety officer responding to a cry for help.
Over the past two weeks, our member organizations have hosted a series of town hall meetings from Hays to Parsons, from Garden City to Olathe and what we heard was both inspiring and alarming. We heard stories of how community mental health centers have saved families struggling with debilitating mental illness. But we also heard from disabled citizens in fear of being forced out of their homes and into institutions. We heard stories of people saved and we heard of staff reductions in correctional facilities that put our officers at risk.
If you don't have a child in school or a family member with a physical or developmental disability; if you don't live near a prison or struggle to pay a college tuition bill, then perhaps these services are meaningless to you personally and it makes it easy to cut budgets. But for others these services offer hope and do support the dignity of every human being.
We are the providers of hope and we are Kansans. We work in Kansas, we pay our taxes in Kansas, we shop in Kansas, we call Kansas home.
Legislature reconvenes tomorrow and we must be prepared
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
KOSE Brothers and Sisters!
We all know Kansas state employees are under intense threat of Slash and Burn, proposals in the 2011 Legislative Session have the potential to cut state agencies by nearly 2%, place a surcharge on our health insurance, and jeopardize our futures by turning our retirement over to Wall-Street as a result of converting our pensions to 401(k)-type plans.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 27 the Legislature returns from recess and will begin its work on the budget and KPERs. We will not have much time to save our services before the Legislature adjourns for the year, which is why we must be prepared for the budget battle of our lives.
From the recent aggression towards state workers, we must be ready in the remaining weeks to Stop the Slash and Burn before it starts heating up at the Statehouse!
Also, if you are a KPERS member, please take the opportunity to complete the following member survey regarding the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS). Most KPERS legislation in the 2011 legislation session has focused upon these two groups of KPERS members. Only verified KPERS Coalition partner members will be included in the final survey, so please confirm your identity by fully and completely answering the questions herein.
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: Individual responses to these questions will be maintained as confidential. Aggregated data of all respondents to this survey may be used in limited circumstances to illustrate the collective opinions and preferences of KPERS members.
This survey will be available through Sunday, May 15, 2011.
Remember, there are steps we will take to ensure we have a fighting chance against the coming onslaught of anti-state employee proposals. Look for the “Stop the Slash and Burn” logo on KOSE Email Alerts.
When the logo appears, we will provide actions for you to take such as sending emails and making phone calls to your Legislators—all at the push of a button.
Due to important changes to workers compensation laws occurring on and after May 15, 2011, the Kansas AFL-CIO is presenting a seminar to detail the new laws and regulations for workers comp. For a brief summary of the changes please visit our Members Only section on our website at www.koseunion.org/membersonly