Act now to prevent educator pay cut

March 17, 2014 03:58 PM


By Dr. Henry C. Mabry, AEA Executive Secretary Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) and Rep. Bill Poole (R-Tuscaloosa), chairman of the House Ways and Means Education Committee, swiftly brushed aside Gov. Robert Bentley’s budget proposal and pay raise bill and pushed a bill out of committee that will raise your PEEHIP out of pocket cost by $504 a year with NO pay raise. Poole will not even bring up for a vote Bentley’s pay raise bill for teachers and support professionals. The Bentley proposal was insufficient to make whole both active and retired educators, but at least it was something, and it certainly was not the pay cut pushed by Del Marsh and his senators or the pay cut being pushed along by Mike Hubbard and his automatons. Speaker Hubbard just slapped the governor in the face by not even allowing the Governor’s pay raise bill to come up in committee. No governor should take such treatment, and no governor has to do so. We hope Governor Bentley does what he needs to do to rectify the situation. Why the governor allows himself to be mocked by this creature we call the Speaker of the House is unknown. The speaker is not a real man to be reckoned with because what he is about is hate/vindictiveness, threats, intimidation, and nest feathering. This little minded man has already admitted on his campaign filings that he received ill gotten gains when he reported “disgorgement” on his own campaign report. Investopedia defines disgorgement as, “A repayment of ill-gotten gains that is imposed on wrong-doers by the courts. Funds that were received through illegal or unethical business transactions are disgorged, or paid back, with interest to those affected by the action.” Black’s Law Dictionary defines disgorge-ment as “...the act of giving up something (such as profits illegally obtained) on demand or by legal compulsion.” Speaker Hubbard & Chairman Poole said no raise, and they are only going to give half of the needed new money for PEEHIP. To simplify, every educator gets ANOTHER pay cut. This means that instead of an $81 a month increase in PEEHIP with a 1% bonus as passed by the Senate, PEEHIP will be short $42 per month with no bonus if the House committee budget becoms law. This means a pay cut of $504 a year for teachers, school nurses, bus drivers, maintenance workers, and cafeteria employees. Some of the Republicans voting for this nonsense budget are saying that the monthly premium increase will not be $42 per month because co-pays and deductibles are not taken into account. What these dumb bunny lawmakers have not figured out is that it matters not whether co-pays or deductibles are different because the AVERAGE cost increase will be $42 a month for everyone. PEEHIP will need the $42 to keep the same services operating. If the state does not pay the $42, then the plan participants will have to pay the $42 a month extra or healthcare benefits will have to be reduced. Republicans can talk about Obamacare all they want. Yes, Obamacare is requiring PEEHIP to provide birth control, automatic enrollment, and other requirements, and this will cost $72 million more next year of the $220 million shortfall, but the Legislature has failed to provide one more dime to PEEHIP since 2007. Well before Obamacare, plan participants have had to pay up to hundreds more in PEEHIP premiums, co-pays, and deductibles per month thanks to Alabama lawmakers, not President Obama. Back in 2007, the state paid $775 per employee, and now Mike Hubbard and Bill Poole are quibbling about paying just $20 more per month seven years later. Today the state funds PEEHIP at $715 per month. PEEHIP needs $795 per month from the state or educators will pay more, period. End of story. No excuse can modify this fact. In 2007, the state paid $100 million more per year on education employees and retirees than it does today. In FY11, $147 million more was put on the backs of employees and retirees in the form of higher premiums, higher co-pays, and higher deductibles thanks to lack of adequate PEEHIP funding. Now, these something-for-nothing legislators want you to suck up another $50 million in PEEHIP costs, or another $500 pay cut for each of you. Let’s recap in the graph below what has happened to the average teacher’s pocket every year under this crowd. This is an annual pay cut in out-of-pocket costs of basically $150 per month and this does not include inflation of 15% which is another pay cut in real terms as far as purchasing power. The Republican legislative leadership will have an estimated $300 million to $400 million at the end of next year, $800 million in savings, and yet they want to cut educators’ take home pay by another $500 a year. We are proud to see Governor Bentley say he will veto the education budget if it comes over without a 2% raise and PEEHIP funded so educators do not have to pay $81 more a month for PEEHIP. We hope the governor continues to stand up to the thugocracy and slick operators in and around the Legislature who want to hurt educators just for sport. We hope Governor Bentley follows through with his veto of the budget if educators’ needs are not addressed and this means both getting PEEHIP funded to include the $81 more in state funding per month per employee and at least a 2% raise for all educators. We will also continue to advocate for a retiree COLA and encourage AEA members to call the governor and legislators and ask for help in this regard. Call house members now and tell them to give you your raise/COLA and to provide PEEHIP the $81 per month. Tell them your living is not a game to play with and if they think it is, then you will treat their political livelihood with the same consideration on June 3 and/or in November.

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Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
- Nelson Mandela