The 2011 Legislature is officially on recess until April 27, 2011. When legislative session reconvenes the real budget battle begins. Session has already been challenging for workers, especially state employees. We must now contact our legislators in their districts while they are on break and we must attend their legislative events to publicize our services and the work we do every day on behalf of our fellow Kansans. Contact your legislators here
The House budget that was passed on Thursday cuts nearly every program that Kansans depend on, the most severely impacted will be our seniors, our children and the disabled. The budget does not contain the 7.5% pay cut, but it does include a 2% across-the-board cut to all state agencies thereby allowing agency heads much discretion to cut their budgets. We know this will have a negative impact on our services. The 2% cut could possibly result in furloughs and layoffs for state employees. KOSE will be active in this process should any of these measures occur.
The House budget also includes an additional 5% surcharge on state employee health insurance and zero funding for market adjustments.
The Senate budget is far different from the House budget and does not contain any cuts to state employees’ pay nor to state agencies, and funding for state employee market adjustments remain intact. It's a reasonable approach to addressing the shortfalls we face.
Currently neither the House budget nor the Senate budget eliminates longevity bonus pay; however, HB 2393, which eliminates longevity pay, may possibly be revisited when the Legislature reconvenes.
The House and Senate Conference Committees have agreed upon a Work Comp bill after hundreds of hours of negotiations between labor and business. The bill will increase the caps, change definitions and include occupational sickness. The conference committee report has not been published nor has the AFL-CIO analyzed the bill. As soon as the reports from the conference committee and the AFL-CIO are available, we will post the information on our web site.
In the following days KOSE will provide you with information on legislative events such as town hall meetings, meet and greets, and/or other functions where you can visit with your legislators. Please make an effort to attend these events because we are facing the most daunting budget battle of our lives. Follow our legislative vote tracker here. Contact your legislators here
KOSE is your eyes and ears at the statehouse.
House Debating Budget Take Action NOW!
Thursday, 31 March 2011
The House is currently debating the budget and whether they would like to furlough you, cut your pay by 7.5%, increase your health insurance contribution by 5%, increase your KPERs contribution and decrease your retirement benefit or enact all these measures together.
We must contact our Representatives now and tell them how all of these measures alone or combined will hurt our family budgets, decimate our buying power, and make our lives and the lives of our children much more difficult. The House will be debating these devastating measures throughout the day.
Our services are under threat from a privatization proposal and it's up to us to stop this devastating bill in Senate Committee. HB 2194, misleadingly called the council on efficient government act, establishes a partisan commission of big-business interests to privatize state services putting a wolf in charge of the hen house. To be clear, this bill allows for future privatization of nearly all services provided by state workers.
Make no mistake, this proposal is a privatization scheme that will begin the process of outsourcing our work to private contractors. Under a privatization scheme for any state agency or service, the employees involved will lose their rights under our MOA and will be forced to adhere to the whims of a private contractor who typically provides less pay and poor benefits. Most workers affected by privatization schemes are not guaranteed to keep their jobs once an agency or service is outsourced.
The Senate will take up this bill on Thursday, March 10 in the Committee for State and Federal Affairs at 10:30 am at 144-S.
Please contact your Senators here and use the talking points here and tell them to reject HB 2194 and protect our jobs from privatization!
From state legislatures to Congress to tea party rallies, a vocal backlash is rising against what are perceived as too-generous retirement benefits for state and local government workers. However, that widespread perception doesn't match reality.
A close look at state and local pension plans across the nation, and a comparison of them to those in the private sector, reveals a more complicated story. However, the short answer is that there's simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim.
Pension contributions from state and local employers aren't blowing up budgets. They amount to just 2.9 percent of state spending, on average, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College puts the figure a bit higher at 3.8 percent.
Though there's no direct comparison, state and local pension contributions approximate the burden shouldered by private companies. The nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that retirement funding for private employers amounts to about 3.5 percent of employee compensation.
Nor are state and local government pension funds broke. They're underfunded, in large measure because - like the investments held in 401(k) plans by American private-sector employees - they sunk along with the entire stock market during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. And like 401(k) plans, the investments made by public-sector pension plans are increasingly on firmer footing as the rising tide on Wall Street lifts all boats.
Boston College researchers project that if the assets in state and local pension plans were frozen tomorrow and there was no more growth in investment returns, there would still be enough money in most state plans to pay benefits for years to come.
"On average, with the assets on hand today, plans are able to pay annual benefits at their current level for another 13 years. This assumes, pessimistically, that plans make no future pension contributions and there is no growth in assets," said Jean-Pierre Aubry, a researcher specializing in state and local pensions for the nonpartisan Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.
In 2006, when the economy was humming before the financial crisis began, the value of assets in state and local pension funds covered promised benefits for a period of just over 19 years.
At the bottom of Aubry's list is Kentucky, which would have enough assets to cover 4.7 years. Other states do much better: North Carolina local government pensions are funded to cover 19 years of promised benefits; Florida's state plan could cover 17 years; and California's plans about 15 years.
KOSE Executive Director Jane Carter Responds to the Paycheck Deception Vote in the Kansas House of Representatives The House Puts Government into Our Paychecks
“The recent vote in the House should have never happened; HB 2130, the “Paycheck Deception Bill” is nothing more than discrimination against union members and their political institutions. This bill restricts the use of funds collected, in part, through the state government’s payroll system as a result of paycheck deductions affirmatively authorized by a state employee for a non-partisan political action committee. This bill does nothing for average union members but tell them how and what they can use their paychecks for.
“For public employee organizations – that is, for KOSE– HB 2130 includes a variation on the anti-union ruse misleadingly called “paycheck protection” by its proponents. Proponents of this ruse speak with high-minded fervor of the need to protect the rights of individual union members and other workers to be free of the compulsion to pay for speech with which they disagree. But, paycheck protection is disfavored by union members. Only business groups like the Chamber of Commerce are in support and for them it is retaliation against working families and their unions for opposing corporate and anti-worker agendas.
“This morning, Rep. Loganbill (D-Wichita) asked a rhetorical question of the proponents of this bill as to whether they thought union members were too stupid to know how to spend their own paychecks. A good question considering that these so-called “small government” legislators have no problem with government meddling in the rights of workers and telling union members how to spend their hard earned paychecks.
“Rep. Mike Slattery (D-Mission) took to the floor and made a bold case against HB 2130 calling the bill a “union tax” because it forces workers to send in paper checks through the mail if they choose to support their union’s non-partisan political action committee, instead of simply having an agreed upon amount deducted from their paychecks at no cost to the worker or employer which is what we have in place now.
“Union members overwhelmingly support labor’s political advocacy. They recognize that labor’s political and legislative advocacy is strongly correlated with the economic interests of working families, and that the removal of labor unions from the political playing field would leave the field to be dominated by the same corporate groups that have forced a race to the bottom for workers – outsourcing jobs, slashing wages and eliminating benefits and retirement security. This is precisely why backers of HB 2130 and similar measures have singled out unions and do not even purport to apply such restrictions to corporations and other membership organizations, and it is precisely why we oppose it.
“The House put government rules into our paychecks today by an 80-36 member vote and KOSE, as well as other unions of both the private and public sectors, will continue to fight against this kind of government meddling in our paychecks. I truly hope tomorrow some of these legislators will stand against big business and support working families and vote NO on final action.”
Stop Paycheck Deception Today!
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
This week the House is debating HB 2130 the paycheck deception bill. This bill restricts the use of funds collected, in part, through the state government’s payroll system as a result of paycheck deductions affirmatively authorized by a state employee. But, the bill only restricts the use of union political PAC deductions. It does not prohibit corporations from using health care or insurance premiums or various other payments they collect from government employees through paycheck deduction. Plainly, HB 2130 is government restricting our rights on how WE spend our paychecks. Make no mistake, this is government interference of our rights.
This bill must be stopped or the voice of Kansas working families and state workers will be silenced. No other group of workers has more reason to be engaged in political activity than state employees. Our wages, benefits and working conditions are directly linked to politics and the actions of the Legislature. The majority of KOSE members support our union’s involvement in political activities. State workers have earned the right to have a voice in decisions which affect them as well as a seat at the table.
Please click on the link below to receive you Representative’s phone number and email address.
Due to the amount of registrations for Lobby day that we have received at the KOSE Office, we have decided to extend the registration deadline to Friday, March 4!
We have been inundated with registrations not just from our brothers and sisters in state service, but from other unions and community activists who support our work and our cause. The firestorm which started in Wisconsin and has now moved to Ohio, Indiana, and New Jersey has caused a wave of interest from state workers and non-state workers alike. The citizens of our state will no longer accept the open attacks against public service and state workers. Please register for Lobby Day now and make your voice heard loud and clear!
The deadline to register is now Friday, March 4th
Register for Lobby Day
March 15: Legislative Reception
March 16: KOSE Legislative Advocacy Day at the Statehouse
To register you must be a KOSE member in good standing. The last day to register is Friday, March 4th. TO REGISTER and RESERVE YOUR SPOT:
On Tuesday, Feb. 8th the House Social Services Budget Committee voted for the Governor’s proposal to close the Kansas Neurological Institute (KNI) and transfer its 156 residents with profound disabilities to private living units over the next two years.
Please select this link for the Topeka Capital Journal’s news report (click here)
This move by the Committee has set in motion what KNI workers, residents, and the family members of residents have fought against for many years—the ultimate shut down of KNI!
Make no mistake, this is serious and the Governor as well as the majority of Representatives are ready pull the plug on the hospital. The only thing stopping them is the Senate. That is why we are providing all the senators emails and phone numbers; every single Senator must be contacted!
This institution is not only vital to the special needs and mental health communities of Kansas, but it generates vital economic development dollars for the local community where it is located. According to a study commissioned by the Topeka Chamber of Commerce, the total economic impact of KNI in FY 2010 was $66 million. The study also showed how KNI’s revenue output and the spending of its workers support more than 1300 jobs in the area.