JULY 2021 WSSRA Update - Alan Burke, Executive Director


July Update

The 2021 convention business meeting concluded on June 9 with approval of the 2021-22 budget and five bylaw revisions (see the spring Journal for more information on those items). The board also cancelled the October Pasco Convention due to lingering COVID worries (see convention update article under this tab), and have scheduled a Zoom awards/recognition ceremony on September 15 beginning at 9:00 a.m. An agenda for the ceremony can be accessed through a separate posting under the “Events” website tab.

The April 29 and May 6 virtual pre-retirement webinars again were successful with 600 attendees participating over the two evenings. Those events featured DRS, HCA/PEBB, Social Security and VEBA repeating their presentations of February 18.  With the success of virtual webinars, next year we plan to offer a combination of virtual statewide events with traditional unit-sponsored, on-site pre-retirement seminars. The first of these virtual webinars will be scheduled in late October or November.

Congratulations to 2021 Honorary Members Doris Hulse (Unit 19), Anne Ferguson, Jane Harbison, Vivian Forrester, and Barbara Breslin (all Unit 28), Elaine Banks (Unit 29), and David Simonson, Dolores Vanstone, Charles McClure, and Robert Hall (all Unit 32).  These individuals have reached age 90, have 20 or more years with WSSRA, and have a significant history of unit leadership, volunteering or community service.

At its April 14 meeting, the Executive Board approved a proposal to add organizational funds to next year’s scholarship program.  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 2021 legislative session closed on April 25 with notable successes (maintenance of the $183 Medicare subsidy and a whopping $800 M budgeted for reducing the TRS 1 unfunded liability) and one disappointment (alas, no Plan 1 COLA in 2021). Peter Diedrick provides the details on the legislative update page on our website. In addition, a Q and A is now posted that describes the details of the $800 M unfunded liability paydown and why it is a good thing for Plan 1 retirees.

Thanks for your ongoing advocacy support, and please maintain close contact with your local legislators as intersession begins.  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