Monday, March 29, 2010

RTTT, SEBC and other Acronyms

It's old news by now, but still worth repeating: Delaware won a Race To The Top grant for $100 million. Delaware and Tennessee were the only two winners in Phase I of the RTTT competitive grant competition. Now it's a race to make Race To The Top work for kids and educators.

The State Employment Benefits Committee met today. Two issues were dealt with. First, the $37.5 million deficit in the health fund will be filled by using reserve money from the fund. If general revenue fund money is available, the Joint Finance Committee may still entertain increasing the general fund contribution so that less health plan reserve money will be used. Second, the SEBC raised rates for the health plan by about 10%. (We do not yet have the rate increase data sheet in our possession.). However, employees will not pay this increase next year. The Governor requested in his budget that employees be held harmless from rate increases for FY 2011.

The Delaware State Education Association entered testimony today at SEBC. We have posted the testimony below. As you will see, we are still very concerned about any plans to create a different level of benefits for new hired educators.

Good afternoon Madame Chair and Members of the Committee.

My name is Tim Barchak, with the Delaware State Education Association.

We appreciate the thoughtful discussions that are taking place regarding the State Employee Health Plan.

We support the efforts of this committee to request additional funding from the Legislature, as well as to cover the employee portion of the premium increase, to get this plan through another tough year.

With the Spring Break of the Legislature beginning at the end of this week, we thought this would be the appropriate time to enter testimony on possible legislative recommendations by this committee.
If this committee is considering recommendations regarding reduced health benefits for new employees, we have the following comments:
· We do not believe legislation of this magnitude should be rushed into. We advise against legislation for this session. There will be only about 25 legislative work days left when we return from Spring Break. We do not see how stakeholders groups can be assembled and ideas pursued in that amount of time. We need a thorough review of all options.
· A plan should not create a permanent underclass of employees who have reduced health care for the duration of their careers. Additionally, some experiences with multi-tiering of benefits have resulted in unfavorable health plans for all members.
· Any consideration of benefit comparisons should keep in mind total compensation packages, for while some neighbors may have slightly less generous health plans, they may additionally have much more generous wage schedules.
· Finally, with any change in benefits we must keep in mind that education is becoming increasingly competitive with higher and higher expectations. If we drive our benefit package too low with already moderate wages, we will have difficulty recruiting the best young educators.

Thank you for your time and consideration this afternoon.

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