Cents and Sensibility | December 2012 Legislative Update

Greetings everyone!

I just wanted to give everyone an up-date on the issues we at the Association have been working on this past month.

One of the largest issues we’ve been focused on is the budget and the Joint Budget Committee’s (JBC’s) activities. Since the election and the new alignment of the legislative committees, the JBC has been busy with budget briefings and presentations from staff on next year’s budget. We have been keeping a close eye on the sessions dealing with the Governor’s budget request and the effect on our member’s benefits and the up-coming changes to the compensation package. We have had several meetings with the Governor’s staff and the JBC members to discuss the progress of those changes. We will continue to be present on your behalf at all the presentations, briefings, hearings, figure-setting process meetings and budget votes that affect those compensation packages. We remain positive about these changes but the process has a long way to go.

Capt. John Lupton (ACSPP Commissioned Officers Rep), CPL Larry Warren (ACSPP District 6 Rep), and myself have been engaged in talks with Director Kathy Nesbit and her staff over Heath care benefits and the State’s new Wellness program. The Health Care Partnership meetings, as they are called, have been very informative. We’ve had presentations from The SEAGL Company, Department of Personnel and Administration, (DPA), United Healthcare and Kaiser Permanente. Our focus at these meetings has been the cost and value of these plans offered to our members. We want to study the elements of these plans, such as overall costs, deductibles, co-pays, State wide availabilities and related issues around State coverage. The administration’s focus has been looking at reducing usage of coverage and attempting to lower the risk to the self-funded State plan by instituting a Wellness system State wide. One of the keys to their program will be getting health assessments on members. The system risk analysis and assessments are a priority of their plan. Where I think we agree is that improving the cost to health care can be impacted by better health of all members of the plan. Our challenge is seeing a change in the rates as the health of our members gets better and usage of the system lowers. We are engaged in these discussions, but I’m concerned that all we see are rates increasing, and we will do most anything to see rates go the other direction for a change. After the first of the year, DPA will have a new State Wellness Coordinator.

I’ve also been engaged in several hours of meetings with DPA, going line by line through the State Personnel Rules. This effort is to make changes to the rules in light of the resent changes to the State Constitution (Amendment “S”), and the State statutes, which apply to these State Personnel rules. Most of the changes are around the testing, hiring and retention of State employees. There will be hearings by the State Personnel Board to review these changes. We will keep you posted on those hearings that will be coming in the first part of the year.

PERA…recently we have been working closely with the Colorado Coalition of Retirement Securities and the administration of PERA to watch the actions of the Federal Government and the dealing with the deficit reduction plans. The “Simpson-Bowles Proposal” contains language that would be troublesome to our retirement system by making Social Security mandatory to all new State and Local workers hired after 2020. The sustainability of the retirement trust fund would be very difficult if this were to be enacted. We are also keeping our eyes on the new State Legislature going into session in January, and the bills that may affect PERA.

A great resource sprung from PERA is their blog endeavor called “The Dime” at http://www.thedimecolorado.com; I encourage you all to check it out.

I want to close by wishing you and your families a safe and Merry Christmas!  Have a Happy Holiday season.

It’s an honor to work on your behalf,
Terry L. Campbell
ACSPP Lobbyist