Legislative Update: Feb. 3, 2012

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   OPEB was the name of the game during the third full week of the 2012 legislative session. AFT-WV president Judy Hale and AFT-WV lobbyists met continuously throughout the week with legislative leaders to iron out details on the proposed OPEB bill. Here’s the latest:
   Senate Bill 469 has passed the full Senate. It moved to the House where it has passed the Finance Committee and awaits first reading on the floor of the House on Monday. In a nutshell, the bill has four major components. The bill calls for :
--$30 million to be dedicated annually toward the OPEB liability when the old worker’s comp fund is paid off (2016), for a period of 21 years or until liability is no longer unfunded, which ever is longer.
--$5 million dedicated annually to a newly-created fund for employees hired on or after July 1, 2010. A select committee -as well as the PEIA Finance Director and Finance Board– will form a benefit that will be given to the employees hired on or after July 1, 2010 and no longer eligible for the original subsidy (as per 2009 PEIA Finance Board action.) The $5 million is designed to help offset the contributions these employees make and are not eligible for the retirement health care benefit.
--The OPEB liability will be removed from county boards of education for all employees funded through the school aid formula. This applies both retroactively and for all future OPEB liability. This is a critical part of the OPEB bill, as it will free up funds at the county level to be used directly for students; and
--The bill contains cost-containment language that will hopefully encourage the PEIA Finance Director to implement strategies to reduce medical inflation.

   AFT-WV continues to pursue our legislative priorities, including a salary increase for education employees (view our Legislative Agenda at www.aftwv.org) and lobby for the issues that matter most to our members. We are hopeful that once the OPEB bill has passed, we will be able to engage legislative leaders in meaningful discussion about salaries. Also, we anticipate the discussion on the teacher evaluation bill to commence next week and remain committed to ensuring that the end product which improves the practice of teaching, raises student achievement and is fair to teachers. AFT-WV will keep you updated on the latest legislative news, so stay tuned!