Category: Bureau of Human Resources
Wednesday, January 29, 2014The SDSEO has been at every hearing of the Joint Committee on Appropriations this session. There were two hearings today, one from 8 a.m. to noon and one later in the day. The first was Day 2 of the Department of Social Services briefings, and the second was a second round for the Bureau of Human Resources. BHR basically went through the present state health plan today, with assistance from contractors like Dakotacare. The 2015 proposed health plan was mostly not a topic. The materials presented are here, under "1/29 BHR Follow-up Presentation." This was the fourth day, overall, for BHR hearings with JCA.
Tomorrow, you can find the SDSEO at the morning JCA hearing, which is Day 3 for Social Services. The agenda is here. You can listen in here. And we'll also be at the 3 p.m. Senate Retirement Laws hearing, where the four South Dakota Retirement System bills will be heard. The agenda is here. The SDSEO will testify in support of each of those bills, all of which are supported by the SDRS Board of Trustees, including the support of the state employee and BOR employees on the board. You can listen to the hearing here.
Categories: Appropriations Committee, Bureau of Human Resources, Legislative, South Dakota Retirement System
Monday, January 20, 2014The first week of the 2014 South Dakota Legislative Session, the 89th session in South Dakota history, started with the South Dakota Joint Committee on Appropriations taking state government employee proposals. The committee heard from the Bureau of Finance and Management's commissioner Jason Dilges and Bureau of Human Resources commissioner Laurie Gill. The Thursday BFM testimony was pretty much laid out in Gov. Daugaard's state budget address, and showed raises in compensation. The slides used are here. Compensation is on page 11. Below is a chart based on info from page 11:
Recommended Increases General Federal Federal Other
3% Across the Board and
Market Increases $9,772,471 $5,442,344 $11,678,982
3% Adjustment Toward Job Worth (PACE) $2,797,040 $1,346,040 $1,828,3780
4.5% Pay for Performance (Career Bands) $585,673 $544,366 $1,587,957
Targeted Compensation Adjustments $454,727 $224,340 $304,730
Employee Health Insurance Increase $6,756,462 $3,902,062 $7,286,652
Total Cost of Recommendation $20,366,373 $11,459,152 $22,686,699
Remaining FY2014 Compensation Pool $(32,711) $(190,766) $(464,725)
Total Increase for Compensation Plan $20,333,662 $11,268,386 $22,221,974
So we see that the proposed salary policy leads to a raise in compensation across the spectrum. But the Friday BHR-centered hearing showed that raises in compensation may have been proposed, but so have increases in deductible and out-of-pocket costs for the employee and dependents. That proposal would see families paying prohibitively more for health care. The slides used are here
Under the BHR proposal, deductibles would rise from a low of $500 to $750, and from $1,000 to $1,250 (no change on $1,800 HSA). And out-of-pocket costs would rise from $2,500 to $3,250, from $3,500 to $4,250, and from $3,600 to $4,350. In addition, higher prescription drug costs, the halving of the retirement subsidy, and the elimination of the COBRA subsidy were offered. Altogether, it totals $5.8 million, and that's all born by the employees, straight out of their pockets. That's a problem.
The worst of it is, though, that these costs would disproportionately affect the lowest paid workers. I think of the families that really comprise the backbone of South Dakota, those helmed by heads of household earning less than $40,000 per year. I'd say most of those families have children, and you know how it is to be a parent: children regularly go to the doctor. Then I imagine having to pay an extra $250 per person for the deductible (so, at least an extra $750 to $1,000 per family), and $750 per person for the out-of-pocket (about $2,250 to $3,000 per family). That all adds up to an extra $3,000 to $4,000 per family per year. As far as family finances are concerned, that's a catastrophic health plan. And for families in the $20,000 to $60,000 range, it's just catastrophic.
The SDSEO will be working hard to see that legislative amendments or other remedies are made. We need your help. One thing you can do is join the SDSEO, as we need your voice with us in the Capitol. Another thing you can do is talk about the SDSEO, and how we're working for you: spread the word about the SDSEO. Yet another thing you can do is talk to your district legislators; you can find them here. An email, phone call, visit, or letter about your concerns goes for more than a session's worth of lobbying by the SDSEO.
Categories: Appropriations Committee, Bureau of Finance and Management, Bureau of Human Resources, Legislative, Movement to Job Worth, Retirees
Thursday, May 2, 2013A common question for an organization such as the SDSEO is "What do you do?" It's a question with a lot of answers: the SDSEO lobbies for, works for, discovers for, researches for, and exists for the South Dakota state government employee. But what does all of that "mean"? Well, it means everything we accomplish, we accomplish for you. Take a look at our "Accomplishments For You" flyer to really see what that has meant for the last 41 years. You'll see that every major benefit for state government employees has been either begun or has been extensively lobbied by the SDSEO.
Make positive change and become an SDSEO member today. We need your membership to help make your career better. Membership information is here.
Categories: Board of Regents, Bureau of Human Resources, Member
Friday, April 19, 2013Took a couple calls and Facebook messages this Wednesday. One retiree called about issues related mostly to current state government employees. I was taken by how much this person still cares about what current state employees must endure: 1) A human resources system that many employees feel does not work for or care about them. 2) The absence of an official, impartial, legislatively sanctioned body that can independently evaluate and recommend disciplinary and grievance procedures from the front of an issue to its back. 3) The perception that the deck is stacked against the average state employee.
I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with the retiree, maybe 45-50 minutes, with most of my time spent listening (while I also researched some of the issues). The retiree asked what could be done about the various things mentioned. I gave the following advice, and it's the same advice I have for all SDSEO members: 1) Contact the SDSEO about the issue(s), so that we may begin to do research and formulate a plan to explore or deal with the issue. Most often, if you have an issue or question related to your employment as a South Dakota public servant, I can have your answer(s) and your solution(s) within moments. 2) The first step determines the second. If you contact the SDSEO first, you'll have a better second step.
I also spent quite a bit of time that day Facebook messaging an SDSEO member about issues related to the ACES evaluation system, specifically as it relates to compensation when the new fiscal year begins on July 1. Over several hours, I made phone calls, checked state websites for relevant info, messaged PDFs and webpage links, and really gave the issue a good going over. By the end of the day, the member thanked me for my work and time and stated that I'd for sure earned that person's $5 in dues for the pay period. I was happy and thankful, but it got me to thinking. Was I working for that member's $5 in dues alone, or was I working on behalf of all SDSEO members and their dues that day? I like to think that I was working for everybody, but on a one-on-one basis. The knowledge and information I gained from helping that member goes into my bag of tricks, and it's a bag that gets opened at the will of an SDSEO member. Have you recruited a new member or joined?
Categories: Benefits, Bureau of Human Resources, Grievance, Member, Movement to Job Worth, Retirees, Salary, Termination
Thursday, April 11, 2013Thankfully, with a winter storm for the ages hammering practically the entire state, South Dakota saw fit to close offices at noon yesterday. But what does it mean as far as compensation is concerned? How will the pay and service be figured?
On the Bureau of Human Resources side, non-salaried employees who could not report to work before noon and reported in about it will not actually have to use their leave: their leave request, up to four hours, for the after-noon work, will be swapped with administrative leave. The leave requests could have been made under any of the categories of leave, from personal to annual to sick. However, salaried employees who called in will have to use their leave, and eight hours of it. Note that this applies to most employees at most departments and agencies; there are some variations, depending on position and employer. If for some reason an employee was scheduled in advance to have yesterday or part of yesterday off, such as for vacation or an appointment, that employee will have to use their leave as they had requested. There are also many potential variations in how offices were actually operating early Tuesday, with some perhaps never even opening, so I suppose BHR will be pretty busy dealing with all of that.
For employees at Board of Regents institutions, it will be pretty much left to the individual institutions. I'd expect them to follow the Bureau of Human Resources policies and procedures, though.
Categories: Board of Regents, Bureau of Human Resources, Member, Salary
Monday, March 25, 2013The state health plan will see changes in FY 2014. FY 2014 begins July 1, 2013. The South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources proposed to the 2013 Legislature the following changes, all of which were accepted and approved as part of the budgeting process:
- 5% dependent premium increase for all plans.
- The FY 2013 rates for active employees in 2013 are here. Apply 5% to the applicable rate with a dependent to find the FY 2014 rate, which begins on July 1. Example: Employee and One Child - FY 2013 rate is $41.35 semimonthly; FY 2014 is $43.42 semimonthly; that's a 5% increase of $2.07 semimonthly.
- 12% retiree premium increase.
- The FY 2013 rates for retirees are here. Apply 12% to the applicable rate to find the FY 2014 rate.
- 5% COBRA increase.
- Co-pays removed on $500 and $1,000 deductible plans, except the ER co-pay, which remains.
The employee cost of these changes is $5.6 million; that's the amount of increase that users of the state health plan will pay over their cost in FY 2013. The $5.6 million comes from an additional $1.1 million in premiums, and $4.5 million in member cost sharing.
The state's costs are increasing as well. FY 2014 will see the state invest an additional $12.3 million in the health plan. The Legislature, in Appropriations, decided against a proposed wellness plan that would have cost an additional $8.1 million. That wellness plan would have alleviated the cost born by employees with the premium and cost-sharing changes because the bulk of the funds would have gone to employees who successfully completed quarterly wellness initiatives. There will be exploration and discussion of wellness initiatives over the summer.
Categories: Appropriations Committee, Benefits, Bureau of Human Resources, Health, Legislative, Lifetime Members, Member
Wednesday, September 19, 2012The SDSEO executive board met this past weekend. As executive director, I thought the meeting went well. Past SDSEO president Fred Nelson was a guest speaker, and he made an excellent presentation about how executive boards and executive directors can serve their organization and their membership. While Nelson's presentation was "on the mark" and will no doubt positively affect the SDSEO and all it does for quite some time, perhaps the best part of him being there was simply him being there.
While the board members and myself were able to take from him his knowledge, in interacting with him, we were able to give him deeper insight into ourselves and the organization as it stands today, insight which he will then take to others. Note how I say "will then take" and not "can" or "might." In science, we may have "every action is met with an opposite but equal reaction," but in communication, you can leave out the "opposite"; in communication, you typically get what you give, so "every action is met with an equal reaction." Just as I'm talking up Nelson and his presentation, I'm certain he's doing the same for the executive board and me. That's why it's important for the SDSEO and all of its members and supporters to "spread the word, with positivity" about the SDSEO and everything we are and everything we do.
If you haven't seen the News page, know that State Employees Day will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It'll be in the President's and Speaker's lobbies off the Senate and House floors, respectively. I'm thinking we'll do ice cream and brownies or something along those lines. Everybody is welcome to attend. I do hope to have a good turnout of both state employees and of SDSEO members.
The Department of Human Resources put out a new Benefit News Briefing on Sept. 14. Here's a PDF. Here are some highlights:
- There's a blood drive tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 20) in Pierre.
- Walgreen's is up and running as a pharmacy provider for the state employee health plan.
- There's a fitness challenge for what should be a nice hybrid bike, some helmets, and a couple bike racks. (Note from Eric: Please try to take advantage of the opportunities you have as a state employee to improve your physical fitness. It helps the state to have fit, healthy employees, and it helps you to be fit and healthy as well. Everybody wins.)
- There's a section on what kind of medical provider you need, based upon your symptoms.
- There are a couple road-race plugs. More fitness!
Categories: Benefits News Briefing, Bureau of Human Resources, Executive Board, Health, Legislative, Meetings, State Employees Day
Thursday, August 16, 2012A review of the SDBHR benefits news briefing.
Categories: Benefits, Benefits News Briefing, Bureau of Human Resources, Member
Wednesday, August 15, 2012(The quotation marks in today's post are mine and do not indicate a statement by anybody other than myself.) I spoke with someone who has been placed into the state's new "cost control" system for those with chronic conditions and who are on the state's health plan. The key part of the system is "case managers" who are to contact and monitor those with have been identified as being "high cost." If one relies on anecdotal evidence, I guess things are kind of "buggy" with the system, with the case manager component having the most bugs. If you are placed into the cost control system, please email or call me and let me know what you think about how the case managers operate. Call at 1-800-257-3736 or at (605) 224-8241, or email the office (email@example.com) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Categories: Bureau of Human Resources, Health, Member, SDSEO Office
Monday, August 13, 2012I get quite a few phone calls from state employees some weeks. Other weeks, maybe just a couple. But of all the calls I get, there's just one kind I don't like: a call from a state employee who has been terminated from his or her position. I say those are the worst calls because they don't have to happen. Why don't they have to happen? Because of the SDSEO. With the SDSEO as an advocate and as an ear, it's my opinion that a state employee has a better chance of having a happy, healthy career as a state employee. At the SDSEO, we work for you.
In part, the SDSEO's mission is to see that members have better careers and career experiences. In line with that mission, all members have access to the SDSEO's main office, and all the assistance that we can provide. If you are a member and have a career question or issue, and if you want advice and assistance outside of state government, all you need to do is call or email, and we'll give you all the help and answers we have and can get. Really, it's that easy. Call at 1-800-257-3736 or at (605) 224-8241, or email the office (email@example.com) or myself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I encourage members to contact us if they have issues or questions, because what I most often see when it comes to employees who have been terminated from their position is a lack of understanding about the requirements and processes one must follow as a state employee. I see it as our job to help you understand those requirements and processes, so that you will never have to call me after you have been fired. Even if it seems nobody else wants you to succeed in your position, I guarantee you the SDSEO wants you to.
Not a member? Join here!
Categories: Board of Regents, Bureau of Human Resources, Grievance, Member, SDSEO Office, Termination