October Update

With the success of virtual retirement webinars this past winter and spring, we are offering a combination of virtual statewide events with traditional unit-sponsored, on-site pre-retirement seminars. The first set of these virtual webinars are set October 28, November 4 and November 9.  Please see the listings and registration information under the “Events” tab.

Two other timely items are of note as the school year begins.  First, the new Long-term care act goes live in January.  Any wage earner not holding a pre-existing long-term care insurance plan in hand will pay 58 cents of every $100 earned ($580 for a $100,000 income) into a fund to pay for this new program.  Details are listed under the “Current News” tab.

Second, the costs of Uniform Medical as a PEBB Medicare Supplement for 2022 have increased from $336 to $364 per month for a single subscriber. This increase may cause retirees to consider switching to other PEBB sponsored programs that are considerably cheaper.  November is the only month to complete any switch. To get everyone current information, Ellen Wolfhagen from the Health Care Authority and manager of the new United Healthcare supplemental program, will be with us for a webinar on October 26 beginning at 9:00 am.  Detailed information about this webinar and a link to access it can be found under the “Events” tab. It is offered to members without the need to register.

Scholarships (both raw numbers and amounts) will increase significantly this year.   Specifically, eight $1,500 scholarships (one per WSSRA district) will be awarded on top of the eight $2,500 scholarships that the WSSR-Foundation annually grants to deserving high school seniors.  In addition, one additional $2,000 teacher intern scholarship will be added per district, increasing the Neil D. Prescott awards to an annual total of $32,000 for aspiring educators nearing certificate attainment. Those awards will be announced in the spring of 2022 for use in the 2022-23 school year.

The Select Committee on Pension Policy (SCPP) meets monthly when the legislature is not in session. SCPP is comprised of legislators from both parties and both chambers, plus pension stakeholders. WSSRA has been working with key SCPP personnel and our advocacy partners to craft a Plan 1 COLA bill for the SCPP to recommend to the 2022 legislature.  An SCPP “blessing” is not required for legislative approval, but it is an important statement to lawmakers that normally lifts a topic from the discussion phase to serious consideration.  We hope to have the SCPP approve a COLA bill in November. Peter Diedrick, along with the legislative committee and unit leaders, has launched a campaign to send written testimony (or sign-up to offer oral comments at the October 19 meeting) to push the SCPP on the COLA issue.  Please contact Peter (Peter@wssra.org) to get involved.

As always, thanks for your ongoing advocacy support, and please maintain close contact with your local legislators prior to the start of the session in January.  Many long-time Olympia observers swear that the most effective lobbying occurs when the legislature is not in session—meaning that time spent locally with legislators not overwhelmed with the details of law-making pays dividends when they do return to the capitol.

Alan Burke, Executive Director