Posted on 02/09/2016 by William Kauffman
Governor Tom Wolf made his annual budget address today, in which he did not focus on a new budget proposal so much as he urged action on the previous budget that the legislature has yet to pass, a budget that was passed by the Senate and received bipartisan support in the House, but was never finally voted on because House Republican leaders went home for the holidays.
“This will not be an ordinary governor’s budget address,” Wolf started his remarks.
The governor went on to explain that our state is at a dire crossroads right now, and the two paths are action, or inaction. Inaction would be continuing the political obstruction that has caused the state to have no budget yet for 2015-16. Action would mean enacting the bipartisan budget for 2015-16, and passing a sustaining budget for 2016-17 such as the one Wolf proposed today.
Posted on 02/05/2016 by William Kauffman
On Thursday afternoon, AFSCME Council 13's Steering Committee voted unanimously to endorse Katie McGinty for U.S. Senate. McGinty's extensive background in both the private and public sectors, along with her deep commitment to working families in Pennsylvania made her the clear choice. Check out McGinty's website to learn more about her as a person, and as a candidate.
Posted on 12/31/2015 by William Kauffman
AFSCME Council 13 applauds Governor Tom Wolf’s line-item veto of House Bill 1460, an unbalanced budget bill sent to him by the GOP-controlled legislature.
The line-item veto allows Wolf to keep emergency funding for key services such as schools, education and counties, while rejecting an education-cutting, out-of-balance state budget that would have left Pennsylvania further in debt.
“It is unbelievable that some of the same folks in the legislature who have claimed to be fiscally responsible actually voted in favor of this budget bill,” Council 13 Executive Director David Fillman said.
“This bill threatened to cut $95 million from schools and create $500 million in debt this year alone. It is irresponsible and unacceptable as a state budget. Legislators need to come back with a better deal for schools and working people, and a deal that can be paid for.”
On behalf of more than 67,000 state, county, municipal and non-profit employees, AFSCME Council 13 urges legislators to get back to work on passing a responsible budget that properly funds education and benefits working Pennsylvanians.
Posted on 12/19/2015 by William Kauffman
This afternoon, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to defeat Senate Bill 1071, pension reform, by a vote of 149 to 52. The actions of the AFSCME members who contacted their legislators regarding this destructive legislation helped to keep the pensions you earned intact. Thank you, and remain vigilant as this legislation has the chance to be revisited.
Posted on 12/19/2015 by William Kauffman
The House of Representatives will be voting on a Pension "Reform" bill TODAY, currently Senate Bill 1071. The changes in this bill will affect current employees' future pensions.
Legislators are in their Capitol offices RIGHT NOW and they need to hear from YOU! Call, email and visit legislators and DEMAND that they oppose SB1071.
Click here to find your legislator and their phone number!
And click here to email your legislator! They need to hear from you every way they can!
One of the many changes proposed is that overtime will no longer be included in your pension calculations. Also there is a possibility of your payroll contribution INCREASING if the assumed rate of return is not met. And the biggest proposed change is that Option 4 (lump sum payment) will now be revenue neutral. The 4% current interest rate on Option 4 will no longer apply.
SB1071 is a terrible overhaul to the State’s public pension systems, which would take Pennsylvania from having one of the best pension systems in the country, to having the 3rd worst in the nation.
What’s worse is that the bill would affect both future and CURRENT employees, undermining their retirement security and likely increasing the employee contribution. If the provisions affecting current employees are struck down by the courts as unconstitutional, then the remaining provisions of SB1071 would result in a net additional COST to taxpayers of $2 billion.
SB1071 does not address the unfunded liability, and it does not even provide any immediate savings for the current budget that is being negotiated.
Posted on 12/08/2015 by William Kauffman
Ten of the 14 victims who died in the San Bernardino shooting attacks were members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), our union brothers and sisters. This is an unimaginably difficult time for their families, and the best we can do is support them in our thoughts and prayers, as well as support them financially. Please take the time to contribute as much as you can to these families through SEIU's Local 721 Member and Family Support Fund. Click here to contribute.
Posted on 12/04/2015 by William Kauffman
Misinformation on pensions is running rampant as Pennsylvania legislators try to impose a "reform" bill on both new and current employees. Arm yourself with knowledge before it's too late!
-The new pension plan design would not reduce the state's unfunded pension liability and could increase it.
-The new pension plan delivers little or no savings for this year's budget.
-The new pension proposal would cut retirement benefits for state and school district employees by as much as 18 percent, and a significant part of these members' retirement checks would be based on the performance of the market, at their time of retirement.
-As a result of 2010 budget cuts, Pennsylvania's pension benefits for new school and state employees are already among the lowest of all public sector workers in the nation. This pension proposal would make the public employees retirement systems the third worst in the nation.
-The proposed new pension design would provide a guaranteed benefit more than 20 percent lower than federal government pensions put forward as a model and significantly inferior to many of the existing state pensions that include both smaller traditional pension and individual defined contribution savings accounts.
-Courts are likely to reject the only potential savings from the new pension proposal as unconstitutional, as it would cut benefits for current employees.
-A 1 percent multiplier is one of the lowest defined benefits and hybrid plans in the country. There are only a few other states with one percent multipliers in their hybrid plans, but their retirees receive cost of living adjustments (COLA). There are no COLA in the new pension proposal.
-This pension proposal would eliminate a secure pension, making it extremely difficult to recruit and retain high quality public employees.
AFSCME members should call their State Representatives and State Senators and urge them to vote against these destructive changes to public employee pensions. Do it for current and future pension recipents, and your union brothers and sisters.