Define fiscally and morally irresponsible? Malloy’s plan for older, retired teachers.

12 Comments

There are a lot of crazy, irresponsible and down-right mean things in Governor Malloy’s budget proposal, but his plan to totally eliminate Connecticut’s contribution to the retired teachers’ health insurance fund may very well take the cake.

For nearly sixty years, the State of Connecticut has been helping retired teachers acquire health insurance. 

Prior to 1986, active teachers did not pay into the Federal Medicare system, so when they retired, they didn’t qualify for Medicare, the primary health insurance system for older Americans. 

Furthermore, since teacher salaries were historically so low prior to the educational enhancement act of 1986, older teachers were retiring with very small pensions.  With no Medicare and limited incomes, few could afford the most basic level of health insurance coverage, without some type of subsidy.

For nearly 4 decades, the State of Connecticut utilized a variety of different mechanisms to help these older, retired teachers get some health insurance.  In 1991 it settled on the creation of the Retired Teachers Health Insurance Fund. 

To fund the program, active teachers contribute 1.2 percent of their income into the health fund.  This year that amounts to about $45 million.

The premiums that retired teachers pay for their insurance brings in about $37 million.

And state law required that the State of Connecticut contribute 33 percent of the cost of a Medicare supplement plan into the Insurance Fund.

Together these funds were used to help retired teachers get health insurance through the Teacher’s Retirement Board or through their last employing board of education.  The subsidy isn’t much, only $110 per month, and despite the massive increase in health insurance premium costs, the subsidy hasn’t been increased since 2000.  The Teachers Retirement Board has determined that the $110 subsidy “now covers “on average” only 14% of the monthly premium for the retiree, further eroding the value of the retiree’s pension.

But as bad as things have become, even the $110 helped a little as these retired teachers were forced to shell out of their own pockets an additional $500 to $900 a month to buy insurance through their former boards of education.

Meanwhile, some towns are engaging in a whole separate effort to change the rules and unfairly force teachers off their municipal plans, but I’ll cover that growing problem under a separate post.

In any case, for good or for bad, the present system has been functioning fairly well. 

And then to balance the state budget in Fiscal year 2010 and 2011, Governor Rell and the Democrats decided to insert language that allowed the state to forgo any contribution for two years.  The lack of funding created a situation that began to derail the financial stability of the Retired Teachers Health Insurance Fund. 

When Governor Malloy was sworn in, rather than recommit the state to the appropriate level of funding, he proposed shifting the burden onto the backs of the retired teachers.  The Legislature rightfully rejected the move, but “compromised” by agreeing to only allocate 25% of the value of a Medicare supplement plan rather than the 33% required by the law.

While the state did deposit $35 million in Fiscal Year 2012 and $18 million in Fiscal Year 2013, by refusing to deposit the appropriate amount the Fund was, yet again, undermined.

And then came this year…

Malloy went for broke and proposed simply making no payments what-so-ever into the fund.

Irresponsible
Outrageous
Inappropriate
Incredible
Breathtaking

This Governor, who ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility, proposing that the state simply forgo putting $70 million into the Retired Teachers Health Insurance Fund.

Here are the facts;

In 2012 the Teacher Retirement Board health plan was serving 18,804 retired teachers

In 2012, the Teacher Retirement Board was also paying the town subsidy on behalf of 16,725 retired teachers.

The average age of the retired teacher on the Teacher Retirement Board’s plan is 75 years old.

These teachers received a $0 cost of living adjustment in their pensions in 2010 and 2011.

The Governor’s plan is simply outrageous.

Oh, and by the way, the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee is holding a public hearing today on Malloy’s Teachers Retirement Health Care proposal.

Appropriations Committee Public Hearing

Thursday, February 21
Elementary & Secondary Education (Room 2D)
2:00- 2:30 PM Teachers’ Retirement Board
2:30- 3:00 State Library
3:00- 4:30 Department of Education
Public Budget Hearings (Room 2C) 6:00 PM

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    And the CEA will contribute a sizeable chunk of good teacher’s dues to elect these traitor Demostoolies.

    • Matt Bracksieck

      By law CEA is unable to use membership dues for political contributions. So…no.

  • jschmidt2

    Very sad. I would say a deal is a deal and reneging on a contract is going back on your word. But we know what Malloys word is worth. As far as cost of living, I venture that 90% of private industry workers have not had a cost of living raise in years or maybe even any raise. When you depend on government or for that matter a company for your retirement, it is not wise.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rich-White/100000066062155 Rich White

      Going back on a contract is one thing. Negotiaitng one in bad faith due to campaign pressure and union contributions and then underfunding it with the tacit approval of the unons are exit clauses in my mind. You are suggesting that state taxpayers have no recourse when a bad contract is signed but have to honor it rather than adjudicate it. That’s being challenged in other states as well

      • jschmidt2

        my comment was in reference to the contract the older teachers had giving them healthcare. For CT to go back on that practice is not right. FUnding the Retired Healthcare Fund should be continued. However, the whole idea of Obamacare re-writes the rules on cost and not for the better. In this state, unions control the Democrats who control the budget. SO unions start off with an unfair advantage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tommy-Burns/712565941 Tommy Burns

    Thanks for the info–I am a teacher and I want my 1.2% if it is not helping those less fortunate–we already pay into our retirements 6% or more–and the state is taking our money with no guarantee—when you have charlatan leaders–a promise is a promise–and I guarantee you that the state will pay it’s promises–for if it doesn’t then what do we stand for–a promise is a promise—you will not play with MY $$-nor any other teachers–you will not follow Wall ST–you will do what you say you will do–or I promise you phonies will pay the price–one way or another–show some integrity–Tom

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rich-White/100000066062155 Rich White

    This is chicken feed. The real shot over the bow is with the state college and university system as detailed in today’s CTMirror.

    It’s only when you get to the state paying $23,000 pension liability this year for a $50,000 salaried position that it strikes home: the system is unsustainable.
    I’m sorry, Mandate 5% salary matching to be expensed yearly up to the 401K limit and be done with it. Force the lump sum settlement for past errors and lets move on and forget defined pensions .

    http://ctmirror.com/story/19208/think-51-tuition-hike-bad-just-wait
    Then there’ s the proposed cap on medical benefits …….

    • JMC

      Are funding obligations and promises made to lower paid public servants decades ago who were required at that time by law to put in their own money “chicken feed”? I think you need to take an ethics course, Rich.

  • Roger

    Teachers! It’s time to take advantage of those trips and
    slips on misaligned tiles and smacks from student attacks you’ve always
    shrugged off and claim those long-term
    disability payments you’ve paid for! Go for it!

  • mookalaboona

    I can’t stand this outrageous Malloy and his picking on teachers. He’s an idiot and he doesn’t care, because I don’t believe he is going to run again. He’s going to get a cushy job with one of his rich friends.

  • Linda174

    Please check out this automated message at a school in Australia, if you need a laugh:

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/Pwghabw4N80?rel=0

    • jonpelto

      Omg – so funny! Thank you!