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
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