Last week I was in London to participate in a scientific symposium. During coffee breaks, many British colleagues asked me and other American visitors to explain the bewildering news that President Trump had announced his intention to cut the budget for the National Institutes of Health by 18.3 percent, about $5.8 billion.Read More
Category Archive: Government Relations
Posted: Mar 22nd, 2017
Posted: Mar 6th, 2017
When the Greenwich Alliance for Education held its annual trivia challenge last week, Carol Sutton worried a bit when the topic turned to finance. Ms. Sutton, the president of the teachers’ union in Greenwich, Conn., and her table full of educators weren’t quite equipped for the question about debentures.Read More
Posted: Feb 22nd, 2017
Under attack for decades of bad decisions regarding their pensions, Connecticut’s labor unions are uniting to fight back against a bill that would exempt retirement benefits from collective bargaining.Read More
Posted: Feb 20th, 2017Anti-worker politicians in the Connecticut legislature are trying to silence the voices of teachers, firefighters and all public employees and strip their rights to negotiate a better future. A proposed bill would roll-back the ability to collectively bargain over pensions or medical insurance, stealing working families’ access to affordable care or retirement security.Join us at the public hearing on this bill and help build resistance to attacks on working families at the State Capitol:
WHEN: Tuesday, February 21 beginning at 2:00PM (the hearing will run into the evening, so come when you can).WHERE: The Legislative Office Building, located next to the State Capitol in Hartford at 300 Capitol Avenue (free parking is available in the adjacent garage).
Posted: Feb 14th, 2017
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has cultivated a national reputation as a passionate progressive on social issues. From transgender rights and immigration to abortion and criminal justice policy, he has been an enthusiastic ambassador for the Democratic party’s liberal wing – and a vocal opponent of President Trump’s agenda.Read More
Posted: Feb 7th, 2017
NEW BRITAIN, CT — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy offered a preview Monday of what municipalities and school districts can expect when it comes education aid.Read More
HARTFORD, CT—Republican legislative leaders added a lot of uncertainty to the fate of a deal to restructure the financing of state employee pensions Wednesday when they released their own plan mid-afternoon.Read More
GOV. MALLOY AND STATE EMPLOYEE UNIONS REACH AGREEMENT ON PENSIONS THAT WILL SUPPORT THE EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT SYSTEM WHILE STRENGTHENING THE STATE’S FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONSPosted: Dec 9th, 2016
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and representatives from the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) today announced that after months of productive negotiations between the administration and SEBAC representatives, an agreement has been reached to modify the funding calculation and amortization schedule for the State Employee Retirement System (SERS) in order to allow the state to fully fund its obligations while continuing to support the SERS system.
The agreement includes:
* Reducing the assumed rate of return from 8 percent to 6.9 percent;
* Transitioning from level percent of payroll to level dollar amortization over five years;
* Moving to Entry Age Normal cost methodology;
* Maintaining 2032 as the payoff date for the unfunded liability accrued through December 31, 1983; and
* Extending the amortization period for the balance of the unfunded liability in a new 30-year period.
The new 30-year amortization period will include a new mechanism to SERS, which will allow for future gains or losses to be amortized over 25 years, thus absorbing market shocks or actuarial variance over a longer period of time rather than back loading the amortization period and resulting in large actuarial required contribution (ARC) payments that would destabilize the budget.
“I am very grateful to SEBAC leadership that we were able to reach this much-needed and forward-looking agreement. It was incumbent upon us to reform this system before facing the fiscal crisis that could have resulted from $4 to $6-billion-dollar ARC payments,” Governor Malloy said. “This agreement does not alter employee benefits or employee contributions in any way – it simply allows the state to fully fund its obligations at realistic amounts that will end with Connecticut resolving the unfunded liability and emerging with a system that is fully funded.”
“I applaud Governor Malloy and SEBAC for finding resolution to these very complex issues. These negotiations highlight how committed we all are to addressing the budget challenges facing the state—keeping our promises to the men and women who have given years of service to Connecticut, and ensuring budget sustainability. I congratulate the Governor and SEBAC on this success and thank them for their work,” said Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman.
“Under the new methodology, the state will remain on schedule to vanquish $4.3 billion in unfunded liability by 2032 and will resolve the remainder of the unfunded liability by 2046 – but with the ARC smoothing out over the new 30-year schedule to remain between $1.5 billion and about $2.3 billion, providing much needed stability and predictability to the budget and to the marketplace,” OPM Secretary Ben Barnes said. “I would like to thank the leadership of SEBAC for being great partners throughout this process and helping us reach an agreement that will improve the state’s finances and help support the SERS system into the foreseeable future.”
A new valuation of SERS will be completed based on these changes and should be ready and available in the coming weeks. The new valuation will give a more accurate and complete projection of ARC payments in the out-years.
* Over many decades, legacy costs, insufficient contributions, returns on investments less than the assumed rate, and unwise actuarial assumptions have created an unfunded liability of nearly $15 billion for SERS. Despite leaning on current employees with increased contributions and less generous potential benefits, the unfunded liability continues to increase.
* SERS was funded at 41.5 percent as of June 30, 2014 – among the lowest rates in the nation.
* SERS was established in 1939, but not pre-funded until 1971. The years of unfunded benefits saddled us with billions in unfunded liabilities.
* Historically, Connecticut has fallen short when it comes to calculating the appropriate payment to keep the unfunded liability from growing and then making the full payment.
* Prior to 2000, SERS calculated amortization payments would have reduced the unfunded liability- if paid- but failures to prioritize these payments led the State to underpay for many years. At Governor Rowland’s insistence, from 2000 onward, the amortization payment was calculated using a methodology that allowed the unfunded liability to grow for many years before declining. So, while the State paid more of its required contribution after 2000, the contributions were inadequate to keep the unfunded liability from growing.
* The use of “level-percent-of-payroll” has added a combined $2.3 billion in unfunded liabilities to SERS, while underpayment of the required contribution, however calculated, has added a combined $3.2 billion in unfunded liabilities to SERS.
* Actuarial experience has accounted for $4.1 billion in unfunded liabilities for SERS since 1985. One contributing factor may be the ad-hoc early retirement incentive programs (ERIP) introduced in 1989, 1992, 1997, 2003, and 2009. These programs directly impact the retirement patterns of members and likely cause dramatic deviations from the existing actuarial assumptions for retirement. Overall, we estimate that at least $1.5 billion, or just over a third, of the $4.1 billion is directly due to the ad-hoc ERIPs.
* The remaining portion comes from deviations in other assumptions such as mortality, turnover, and salary growth, and likely includes some residual impacts of the ERIPs.
Posted: Dec 3rd, 2016
We are inviting you to become part of an exciting opportunity! Article X II of the UCHC-AAUP constitution establishes the formation of a Government Relations Committee. “Government Relations” involves enhancing communication between elected officials and the union. It involves advocacy and monitoring of legislation that affects bargaining unit members. Most importantly, when ready, the new committee will focus on the legislature’s adoption of our new collective bargaining agreement. However, we would like to emphasize that government relations is distinct from political activity in that union is not endorsing candidates, contributing or campaigns, or serving in any electioneering capacity. Please let us know of your interest.
Posted: Nov 30th, 2016
A 996-page bill that seeks to speed up the approval of new medicines and medical devices is expected to head to the House for a vote Wednesday, amid criticism that the complicated legislation is being rushed through without sufficient scrutiny.Read More