Hello again, members!
A lot has been happening since the 2017 Legislative Session began in January. I will try to give you a synopsis that gives you a sense of where things are at the present time.
It was well into January before we knew who the Legislators named to the Legislative Commission on Pensions and Retirement (LCPR) would be. House members were named first and the Senate followed less than a week before the first meeting was scheduled. This is of importance as it was a pattern of delay that has continued.
We hosted the Annual Legislative Conference on February 8. We alternate hosting this event with EdMN-Retired. We scheduled it early thinking that getting active was called for. Remember last year’s agenda included the LCPR Chairperson, Sen. Julie Rosen. Days before the event, Sen. Rosen cancelled. One other Republican member, Rep. Tony Albright had agreed to come for a Legislative Question and Answer Session. He did not show up. No apology or explanation was given. Only Democrat, Rep. Paul Thissen came. We learned a lot that day that was helpful, especially from National Retired Teachers Association representative, Tom Nicholls. We learned the extent to which Pensions are under fire nationwide. He made the case for meeting with and conversing with legislators. NRTA Tips about how to do that are available on our REAM website as a link. www.mnream.org.
As the Legislative session has ensued, Commission meetings have allowed testimony on the TRA stakeholders Bill that was collectively developed. Our President and Vice-President testified without Don Leathers and myself. We were told there wasn’t enough time for all of us to speak. We were told that we would have opportunity to testify at a later meeting. As of this writing, that has not happened. Meetings have been cancelled, and as of Easter break, no action on our Bill has been made.
What has happened is that Rep. Albright and Rep. O’Driscoll, (2016 chair), asked for a report on possible measures that could produce savings for the State in the “Course Correction” with TRA that we have proposed. Among those is a PERMANENT ONE Percent COLA, a lowering of the 1.9% multiplier to 1.7% and a PERMANENT 7.5% assumption rate. The COLA part means retirees and future retirees would see the buying power of their Pension going backwards against inflation…Forever. The report was given to the Commission. Little opportunity to respond by stakeholders or hearing have been granted. Many of us have answered that privately. So what should a REAM member do?
It is my hope that you are seeing/hearing that pension involvement is greatly needed. The pattern of delay and inaction from the Party in power is creating considerable concern for retirees and actives alike. Please call, write or email your State Senator and State Representative immediately. Tell them simply…that our Pension is NOT an Entitlement. It is a Benefit that was promised. It was paid for by YOU and your employer, and WE should be able to continue collecting on that Promise. Tell them you expect them to pass the House File #2486 Bill as crafted by TRA and the Retiree stakeholders! We expect promises to be kept.
Thank you…Thank you in advance for your timely involvement!
P.S. REAM members who are PERA Pensioners. . . Your Pension has no proposal before the LCPR this session.
Are you aware of how much your pension has eroded since 2009?
In a Dream Big scenario, I would wish for REAM and public education to have unlimited funds: funds to be able to compete with the many, very well funded, anti-public pension entities that are out to eliminate the defined benefit system on which we depend for retirement security …
The REAM Action Committee (RAC) has been working hard for a little over a year. Their goals have been to increase the REAM membership and also to reactivate some REAM units.
I wanted to open with the first word that I thought of when I heard our latest membership numbers. Are we running out of people to recruit? Not even close, but REAM is moving in the right direction. With over 9,500 members we are improving our credibility at the Capitol.
Our quest to achieve 10,000+ members is steadily climbing. We now have 9,587 members strong at the last report on Monday, February 13th.
The Legislature is now in full swing!