A New Day, A Better Way
he 2011 Legislative Session was a long, hard fought battle on all fronts.We faced devastating cuts to the services we provide and that so many Kan-sans rely upon. In addition to the Agency cuts, state workers faced proposals of deep pay cuts, “surcharges” on our health insurance, and complete dismantlingof our pension system. Ultimately, KOSE members had some big wins! Wesuccessfully defeated some of the most egregious attacks on our pay andbenefits. We expected the worst, but our voices fought back!
The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) was one of the bigtopics of the 2011 Legislature. Both the House and the Senate proposed differ-ent changes to KPERs; both proposals varied in compromise and sustainability.The final “compromise” includes the following provisions:
Establishes a 13-member KPERS Study Commission to consider otherfixes to the current plans, including defined contribution plans and hybridplans that could include a defined contribution component. The Commis-sion would be required to report no later than January 6, 2012 on its rec-ommendations, which would then be introduced as two identical bills ineach chamber of the Legislature.
After each Chamber votes on the proposals of the Commission, thefollowing provisions and changes would be implemented:The employer contribution annual rate cap of 0.6 percent wouldincrease to new annual limits as follows:0.9 percent in FY 2014;1.0 percent in FY 2015;1.1 percent in FY 2016;1.2 percent in FY 2017.
KPERS Tier 1 members would have two options
:Employee contribution of 6% with a multiplier of 1.85%for future yearsof service (
). Remain at the current 4%b but reducing the futuremultiplier to 1.4%.
KPERS Tier 2 members would also have two options
:Employee contributions remain at the current 6% with a 1.75%multiplier, but the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would be elimi-nated. Freeze the current contribution rate at 6%, reduce the multiplierfrom 1.75% to 1.4% and retain the COLA.
In one of the worst budget years, the House decided to dig in its heels andrequire an arbitrary ending balance of $50 million. The Senate held strong onour market adjustments and services until the early morning hours at the end of Session.The House demanded even more cuts to vitalstate services as the Session dragged on in an attemptto boost the State’s ending balance. In an attempt to‘flat fund’ the budget, the House actually cut morefrom services and programs than the Governor. Thebudget eventually passed with these cuts and‘adjustments’:
An across the board 1.193% cuts to all Agencies;
Elimination of market adjustments for FY 12 andFY 13 – leaving no debate future budgets;
2.5% TAX on state workers’ health insurance;
“Sweep” all employee travel rewards.We all know that an across the board cut isnot only devastating to the Agencies, but means wewill continue to work just as hard as before with less.These cuts mean we will continue to do our jobs forless than both the private and public sector. Evenworse, this also means we could face lay-offs anddeeper cuts.State workers had a hard fight this Session,but we had our voice heard. With record-breakingattendance at Lobby Day, Legislators heard from stateworkers more than ever. Unfortunately, we still havemany more battles during the interim and we mustbuild our power for next year. KOSE members, ourfamilies and neighbors, need to stay in touch with ourlegislators while they are at home in their districts.Make sure they hear from you!
They need to knowthat the work that we do matters!
2011 Kansas Legislative Summary
By Jane Carter, Executive Director