Recently the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) that effectively barred same-sex married couples from being recognized as “spouses” for purposes of federal law. State Comptroller Kevin Lembo announced a special open enrollment period for state employees and retirees who wish to add a same-sex spouse to the State’s health plan and explained immediate changes in the federal tax treatment of health benefits provided to same-sex married couples.
The Special Open Enrollment period will occur between July 9, 2013 and September 13, 2013 to give employees the opportunity to enroll a same-sex spouse for health benefit coverage. During this period, enrollment is limited to state employees and retirees who did not previously enroll their same sex spouse. Subscribers who fail to add a same-sex spouse partner during the Special Enrollment Period will not be permitted to add such persons until the annual Open Enrollment period for coverage effective July 1 of each year, or until a Qualifying Event such as a loss of coverage or life status change. The Subscriber must provide a copy of his or her marriage certificate at the time of enrollment.
For employees and retirees currently covering a same sex spouse under the state health plan, the Comptroller’s Office is working on adjusting premium shares from a post-tax to a pre-tax basis and modifying federal income and Social Security taxes year to date.
The IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor are expected to issue guidance concerning how the Supreme Court’s decision will affect the administration of some 1,000 federal laws. It is presently unclear how the ruling will impact federal income tax returns filed in prior years or whether the IRS will establish specific procedures for same-sex couples to seek refunds based on filing status or payment of federal income and Social Security taxes on the imputed value health benefits to a same-sex spouse.
jrojas July 11th, 2013
After nearly a decade, the Second Circuit Court’s opinion invalidating John Rowland’s layoff of nearly 3,000 state employees is a tremendous victory for the free speech rights of all Americans. The court held that when a governor punishes people because of the group to whom they belong – whether it’s a union or a political party, or a religion – he or she violates our Constitution’s most cherished provisions.
The case is now being remanded to the district court to craft appropriate equitable relief, and to consider the case for damages against the former governor.
The Second Circuit Court’s opinion shows that Rowland’s treatment of public service workers as the enemy is costly and destructive – to the workers and the vital public services they provide, and to every taxpayer.
Instead, it is mutual respect – for the law, for public service workers, and most importantly the public we all serve – which will move us forward towards a better future. Our country and state simply function better when top officials work with and for working families, instead of against them.
“It feels great to be vindicated by the appellate court,” said Denise Bouffard, a Support Enforcement Officer and plaintiff in the case who was illegally fired from the state in 2003. “I stepped forward because as a single parent I wanted to show my daughter that when you believe in something you have to stand up for what is right.” Denise is a member of Judicial Professional Employees Local 4200B.
“When John Rowland laid off nearly 3000 state workers it was a mean, vindictive act that was perpetuated by Jodi Rell, after Rowland went to prison,” said Marcelle Pichanick Groves, one of the named plaintiffs in the case. “Rell had many opportunities to make this right and thus mitigate the damages for our state’s tax payers. Instead she chose to waste millions of taxpayer dollars fighting this lawsuit. I thank the court for upholding the rights of workers.” Groves worked as a Management Analyst 2 for the Department of Environmental Protection when Rowland laid off 3,000 state employees including her. She now works for the State Department of Education as an Associate Account Examiner and is a member of A&R Local 4200.
Ultimately the Court’s decision is a welcome reminder to the John Rowlands of Connecticut, the Scott Walkers of Wisconsin and the Koch brothers of everywhere that in America it’s not just the powerful, the rich and the big corporations that have free speech rights. Ordinary Americans, whether they work for the government, private industry or their corner drug store, have rights, too.
A copy of the decision can be found here: http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/3829bb26-7573-4307-b014-149c3c3a1ed0/3/doc/11-3061_opn.pdf
jrojas June 4th, 2013
jrojas September 6th, 2012
Posted In: SEBAC
Updated 4/5/12: A new and expanded Q & A on the Hybrid Plan has been added (see top link) The most significant change is that we have dealt successfully with a tax glitch that concerned the Tier II Hybrid which threatened to derail the entire process. The IRS has changed its view on one aspect that affects the Tier II Hybrid Plan. The result is that those switching to the Tier II Hybrid will contribute 5% of salary to their retirement plan with 3% going to the Hybrid and 2% going to their ARP account. All ARP participants who were hired before July 1, 1997 (Tier II) and who are considering switching to the Tier II Hybrid Plan, should pay very careful attention to this issue, which is reflected in Question 2.
SERS Hybrid Transfer Delay
The State Comptroller’s Office is NOT going to have the past service credit estimators ready by their original April 1 deadline. These estimators will allow those who are considering the Hybrid Plan to determine how much it will cost to purchase past service credit and how much past service credit their ARP and other qualifying retirement funds will buy.
The Comptroller’s office has told SEBAC that while they have the actuarial charts in hand, the complexity of the actuarial issues involved in creating the estimators and testing them means that they will not be available for “about two weeks.” We are obviously disappointed by this news and will let you know the new date when we have one.
Status Report on Implementation of Hybrid Plan for Employees with Pre 7/1/11 Hire Dates
1) The “window” for choosing to transfer with or without the purchase of past service will be open no later than April 1, 2012, and will close as previously announced – 90 days following the IRS ruling on the “SAG” award. Those participants choosing to purchase past service credit in the Hybrid Plan will be required to do so at the time of transfer.
2) Funds available to use for purchase of service will be those In the participant’s ARP account and other state funds. All unencumbered ARP funds may be used to purchase past service in accordance with the previously agreed actuarial charts.
3) Encumbered funds subject to yearly release due to TIAA-CREF rules will be available as well, but will require agreement to the provisions of the Individual Encumbered Funds Form. That form guarantees that encumbered funds are available to the SERS system upon their release, and uses the discounted present value of those funds for the purpose of purchase of past service in the Hybrid Plan. [The form is still being finalized]
4) The window for transfer and possible purchase of past service credit for participants in the ARP who are not participants in the Social Security system will be open on April 1 along with other ARP participants. The Comptroller has determined that there is no possibility that retroactive coverage in the Social Security system (and its concomitant retroactive tax liability) will be required. So non-Social security covered ARP participants will be eligible to purchase service with everyone else on April 1st. Those ARP participants who join the ARP will become social security eligible on a prospective basis only.
SEBAC 2011 created a new Hybrid retirement plan option for professional employees of Higher Education institutions. The plan was created by Paragraph II.C. 7 of the Agreement, which reads:
jrojas March 27th, 2012
Union leaders responded to news reports that thousands of managers and top agency officials would receive upwards of $7 million in longevity bonuses in October. The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) filed a grievance on behalf of the front-line members of its constituent unions for allowing the payments to go forward.
At issue is the understanding, under the recently ratified SEBAC 2011 agreement, that managers would make longevity sacrifices at least comparable to those made by the front-line workers. Longevity payments were frozen for two years — but preserved over the long-term — for members of the SEBAC unions. By paying the full October longevity bonus, some managers will never make equivalent sacrifices — particularly those who retire in the near future or those who already have 25 years of service.
SEBAC is filing the grievance to force the administration of Governor Dannel P. Malloy to live up to its commitment not to treat union-represented workers less favorably than managers, appointees, and officials.
Click here to read the SEBAC Longevity Grievance.
jrojas October 7th, 2011
From Thomas C. Woodruff, Director, Healthcare Policy & Benefit Services Division, Office of the State Comptroller:
The Governor and SEBAC (State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition) have reached an agreement that establishes a Maintenance Drug Network Program, effective October 1, that provides two options for state employees and retirees under age 65 to obtain their maintenance drugs for certain chronic conditions:
To date, pharmacies participating in the Maintenance Drug Network include: all Big Y, CVS, ShopRite and Stop & Shop pharmacies. In addition, Bordornaro’s Pharmacy in Portland, Hope Street Pharmacy in Stamford, and Manchester Pharmacy in Manchester have agreed to participate. This means that, instead of receiving these drugs through the mail, participants may pick up their prescriptions for maintenance drugs at any of these pharmacies.
The Office of the State Comptroller will post details as additional pharmacies may join the network in the coming weeks. The pharmacy list is located at :
Maintenance medications are those used to treat chronic conditions and are typically taken on a regular basis. If a participant is currently getting a 90-day supply of a medication for a chronic condition at their pharmacy, it is likely a maintenance drug. Caremark, the state’s pharmacy benefits manager, maintains a list of those drugs frequently used by state plan members that are considered maintenance medications. The list can be accessed at this link:
After October 1, if a participant refills a maintenance drug at participating Maintenance Drug Network pharmacy, the refill should be made for a 90-day supply for one co-pay. It is the responsibility of the local pharmacist to contact the physician if a 30-day script for maintenance drugs needs to be converted to a 90-day script.
After October 1, if a participant refills a maintenance drug at a pharmacy that is NOT participating in the Maintenance Drug Network he/she will only receive a 30-day supply. Following that prescription fill, Caremark will notify the participant directly by mail that their next refill for that medication must be refilled through the maintenance program.
Caremark will also inform participants of these prescription filling options outlined above. Participants can register for the mail order process by phone at 1-800-875-0867 or can log on to www.caremark.com/faststart and sign in to register. Participants should have their prescription card number, the names of medicines, their doctor’s information and payment information (credit card, debit card, check) ready.
Some employees have expressed concern that for security or privacy reasons, they would rather not receive maintenance drug(s) by mail. If they would prefer to pick up maintenance medications in person, they should use one of the local pharmacies in the Maintenance Drug Network.
Currently, pharmacies in over 250 locations throughout the state have agreed to participate in the Maintenance Drug Network. If participants fill their maintenance drug prescriptions at these locations they will be able to get a 90-day fill for one co-pay.
jrojas September 30th, 2011
Of the 53,191 state employees eligible to enroll in the Health Enhancement Program (HEP), 51,126 (96.5%) will be participating in the program whose goal is to keep participants healthier and to save them money in premiums and deductibles. 209 employees enrolled as not participating in HEP and 1,859 did not enroll.
Of the 2,333 community college employees eligible, 2,247 (97%) will participate in HEP. 14 employees enrolled as not participating in HEP and 72 did not enroll.
jrojas September 19th, 2011
After union members voted overwhelmingly to ratify the SEBAC 2011 and 4C’s 2011 tentative agreements, they were approved by the legislature. You can read the agreements which call for sacrifice, but also provide job security and protect vital public services.
jrojas September 16th, 2011
After a summer of turmoil, angst, layoff notices, and threatened program closings, SEBAC leaders approved a new Agreement which covers health and pension benefits for all state employees.
State employees voted 26,161 in favor and 9,620 opposed to ratification. Further, 32 out of 34 individual bargaining units, including the 4Cs, also approved the wage concession and job security agreements. The 4Cs Agreement freezes wages for two years, followed by 3% raises plus a step in 2013, 2014, and 2015. It also provides job security for most 4Cs members for four years.
For the full text of each Agreement, click the link below:
jrojas September 16th, 2011