EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR UPDATE - Alan Burke, April 2024 Update

Good news! The 2024 legislative session ended on March 7—but not before the House and the Senate agreed to fund a 3% one-time, Plan 1 COLA that will show up in July pension checks. In addition, the $183 per month PEBB Medicare subsidy was maintained—but not after some consternation as the Senate Ways and Means chair proposed the idea of linking COLA monies with funding “adjustments” for the health care subsidy. In the end that didn’t happen, but the concept undoubtedly will be on the legislative table for the 2025 session.

Thanks to the hundreds of members who reached out to legislators during the session with messages to support the COLA and other WSSRA priorities. That effort peaked in a Senate Ways and Means hearing when over 1,500 retirees signed in “pro” on the COLA bill. That level of response was enough to push the bill through the committee and onto the Senate floor, where it was approved 49 – 0. Since the COLA bill had earlier passed the House 97 -0, the final scorecard was COLA “yes” 146; COLA “no” zero. Impressive indeed! See more detail in Peter Diedrick’s update under the legislation tab.

The third in a series of 2023-24 member-only webinars is scheduled for 9 am on April 11. The topic will be Alzheimer’s/Dementia awareness. The webinar will feature a team from the Tri-Cities area Alzheimer’s Association. This topic is timely for the many members who are seeking advice for the care and assistance of a loved one suffering from this dreaded disease. The presentation will be recorded and posted on the website for those with a conflict on April 11.

Please circle June 3-5 on your calendar for the 77th annual WSSRA convention in Wenatchee. Keynoter Dottie Metcalf-Lindenberger will highlight the Tuesday morning session. Dottie, a former astronaut, will wow attendees with a multi-media presentation that combines space travel with a message on how to improve life in local communities. On Monday afternoon, Dr. Gene Sharratt, longtime Washington educator and friend of WSSRA, will open the convention with a keynote that will focus on positive developments in the current educational landscape. Gene always leaves his audiences with a smile, and reminds us that we can make a difference in our communities.

As for Monday afternoon breakout sessions, we have scheduled a Health Care Authority team to discuss the latest developments with cost cutting measures for Uniform Medical Plan-Classic, by far the most expensive (and popular) PEBB Medicare supplement plan. In addition, breakouts are scheduled for Estate Planning and Senior Care for the Aged, the latter a

presentation that will delve into the challenges of arranging services in home-based care, assisted living, nursing home, and hospice. All of us, at some time or another, will be faced with making those decisions for loved ones. This presentation will offer needed guidance in choosing the right care option.

In addition to keynotes and breakouts, plenty of time will be allotted to team building, social interaction, and training. The convention planning team has met regularly to make sure that all the details that make for a successful convention are addressed.

On the membership front, thanks to unit leadership and local membership chairs for their recruitment efforts this past school year. We are working diligently to reverse the trendline on membership losses that began with COVID in 2020. A 17,000 strong membership impresses legislators, but they would be even more impressed if our numbers rose toward the coveted 20,000 mark. Please do what you can do to have former colleagues join WSSRA!

Enjoy spring and please make plans to attend the Wenatchee convention in June.


Alan Burke