Ready for the November Elections?
On November 6th you’ll be able to vote for a new State administration. Candidates for the executive and legislative branches are asking for your vote. You’ll have the opportunity to ques-tion candidates at forums, on the phone or at your front door .
Take the opportunity to ask:
- Will you support the State’s contributing the promised one-third of the cost of retired teachers’ health insurance to the Health Insurance Premium Account?
- Will you support maintaining the current defined benefit pension plan for retired teachers?
- Will you support maintaining the contributions of active teachers to their retirement fund at the current 7% level?
- Will you support the immediate implementation of the 50% exclusion of teacher pensions from the State Income Tax?
It’s very likely that most State office-seekers won’t know the answers, so you might want to inform them that:
- In the past decade the State has underfunded the HIPA ac-count by more than $190 million. Retired and active teach-ers have consistently paid their two-third share. The Teachers Retirement Board was forced into a less desirable Medi-care Advantage Plan in order to avoid bankrupting the HIPA.
- A six member commission, appointed by members of the Legislature, is currently examining ways to attack the seri-ous deficit in the various State pension systems. Teachers currently have a defined benefit plan. An alternative under consideration for newly hired teachers is a defined contri-bution plan, similar to an IRA, which would be subject to fluctuations in the stock market.
- Active teachers contribute 7% of their salary to their pen-sion fund—an increase of 1% in the past year. However this additional 1% was used to decrease the amount the State was required to contribute to the pen-sion fund.
- In 2014 the Legislature passed Public Act 14-47 (§ 50), which in subsequent years was to exempt 10%, 25% and 50% of retired teachers’ pensions from the State Income Tax. The exemptions were deferred and, as a result, the exemption remains at 25% at least until fiscal year 2020-2021. Unlike teacher pensions, between 75 and 100% of Social Security benefits are exempted from the State In-come Tax.
Do you want your legislators to represent your needs and concerns? Make your opinions known. Very few voters take the time to contact their legislators.
Is your mailbox cluttered with political ads? Each ad will have a website or email address for the candidate. Ask a question and wait for an answer. If you don’t get an answer send a “’second request” followed by a third, fourth or whatever it takes for a response. At least you’ll know how responsive that candidate will be to your concerns.
Your vote is precious. Don’t waste it on a candidate who won’t be responsive to the issues important to you.