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RPEC Weekly ACTION Newsletter – March 24, 2017

State Legislative Update

The Senate passed their operating budget (SB 5048) in the wee hours of the morning on Friday, March 24th on a party line vote 25-24. It does not include a COLA for Plan 1 members nor a restoration in the PEBB Medicare subsidy. It includes no new revenue except for the property tax levied to pay for basic education.

The night before, the amended Senate budget passed out of Ways and Means Committee, after a nine hour marathon session. Among the 73 proposed amendments, Sen. Conway offered an amendment to restore the PEBB Medicare subsidy to $183/mo. The amendment failed by a voice vote (members did not have to take individual votes, Sen. Braun asked for a no vote and the amendment failed).

The House is slated to release their budget on Monday or Tuesday of next week, and it is expected it will be heard the same day or the following day in Appropriations and Finance, and moved off the House floor by the end of next week. We anticipate the House will offer a revenue package containing over a billion dollars in new revenue.

We will be having RPEC members testifying at upcoming House budget hearings to emphasize the need to include a PEBB Medicare subsidy restoration from $150 to $182.50 and a Plan 1 COLA in the budget.

Again, we will have video of the hearings and testimony published on our website and Facebook page immediately afterwards.

Senate Bill 5179, requiring coverage for hearing instruments under public employee and Medicaid programs, has passed the Senate and the House Health Care Committee.  We will continue to support moving this bill in the House.

 

Bill Update

Here is a link to the list of bills currently of focus to RPEC and their status:

http://www.rpecwa.org/bill-summary-3-24-2017/

 

American Health Care Act (AHCA)

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to vote on the Paul Ryan-Donald Trump plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Speaker Paul Ryan delayed the vote because it did not have enough support. Congress spent the night frantically retooling the bill, but it is unlikely to pass.

Passage will still result in millions of Americans without coverage and those that do have insurance will have weaker protections, at a higher cost.

At this moment, the AHCA is on the House floor being debated in advance of a vote demanded for by President Trump.

Our activism is working – but we have to do it again today. Call your member of Congress RIGHT AWAY at 1-866-828-4162 and tell him or her to vote NO on the replacement bill.

If you called yesterday, please call again today. Dial 1-866-828-4162 to be connected to your Representative’s office.

If this bill passes, Medicaid (which assists those in nursing homes) will be gutted and care for seniors and children will be rationed. The Medicare Trust Fund will be four years less solvent, and insurance companies will be able to charge older Americans five times more for the same coverage.

 

Pensions Are Not Pots of Gold for Irresponsible Lawmakers

Pensions might look like a pot of gold to politicians right now, but they should go follow another rainbow if they want extra funds to pay state bills. Public pension funds need to stay right where they are.

Public pensions are in a good place. A recent study from NCPERS found that pension funding levels went up again in 2016, to an average of 76 percent. The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College noted similar trends and expects average funding levels to approach 77-81 percent by 2018. Pensions have weathered the 2008 economic crisis, as they’re designed to do. But healthy pension systems now face another challenge with local governments. Continue reading here.

 

As you can see, we have much work to do in the weeks and months ahead to continue the betterment of your retirement security. Your continued support and political action is a necessity!

Your Voice for Retirement Security!

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