The Texas Public Employees Association is the oldest and largest state employee group. As a non-partisan, non-union association, TPEA is the leading advocate for ALL state employees and retirees before the Texas Legislature.
TPEA Advocacy Update - July 2011
The gavel fell on the First Called Special Session on June 29, and no legislation affecting state employees was enacted.
One bill affecting state employees was considered during the Special Session. HB 30 by Rep. Callegari would have authorized, but not mandated, furloughs, but the measure did not make it to the floor for a vote.
The Special Session did address some lingering budget concerns after a necessary fiscal bill, SB 1811, was filibustered at the end of the Regular Session. Governor Perry immediately called the legislature back into session and issued a series of items to be considered as part of the call.
The Legislature enacted three bills to complete the budgeting process for the 2012-2013 biennium:
Other items considered during the Special Session included Congressional redistricting, so-called sanctuary cities legislation, and efforts to criminalize invasive airport security searches. See this article from the Texas Tribune on the Special Session.
TPEA’s June Legislative Update provided a more detailed account of the outcome of most major issues affecting state employees and retirees during the Regular Session. Overall, the total number of state and university employees budgeted for over the next biennium will decrease significantly, by 5,727 FTEs in FY 2013 when compared with 2011.
On other issues, despite the looming budget deficit, TPEA worked successfully to protect the interests of state employees and retirees:
TPEA would like to thank those Legislators who stood up for state employees and retirees when we needed them in the most difficult budget session ever. All mentioned here played a significant role in ensuring that health care remains affordable, the retirement fund is strengthened, and other benefits remain status quo.
TPEA worked closely with all of these members throughout the session and our success is due to the strong relationships TPEA maintains with these members.
In addition, both Speaker Joe Straus (R – San Antonio), Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and their respective staff members were a positive force behind the results of this session in regards to employee and retiree benefits.
The summer enrollment period during which employees and retirees can make changes to your ERS benefits begins on Monday, July 11 and continues through Friday, August 5. To see new premium rates and other benefit information, or to make changes online, follow this link.
ERS retirees may continue to receive their current health coverage with the state paying their full premium and half the premium cost for dependent coverage, but retirees who provide coverage for their spouses should be aware of a new option that is intended to provide equivalent coverage at lower cost.
Earlier this year ERS requested bids from health maintenance organizations (HMO) providers for Medicare Advantage Plan coverage for qualifying ERS retirees and their dependents. Retirees with Medicare in Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend and Galveston County can enroll in KelseyCare Advantage, a Medicare Advantage HMO administered by KS Plan Administrators, whose network provider is the 19 facility Kelsey Seybold Clinic system. Eligible retirees and dependents can enroll this summer for coverage effective on September 1. Premiums for covering an eligible spouse will be $125 per month lower than current ERS HealthSelect coverage. KelseyCare Advantage members must stay in the HMO network for health care services, and prescription drug coverage is somewhat different than HealthSelect. If you are eligible for the plan, you got an information sheet in the enrollment statement that ERS sent you.
In addition, ERS is currently evaluating bids for a statewide Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Medicare Advantage Plan that could begin providing coverage January 1, 2012. If ERS offers such a plan, it is expected to provide comparable cost savings for dependent coverage. ERS will have a special enrollment for Medicare retirees in the fall if the coverage is to be offered. TPEA will provide more information as it becomes available.
Get Involved, Join TPEA today!
If you are one of the recipients of our newsletter who is not a TPEA member or if you're unsure whether or not you are a member (click here to verify your membership status), consider joining today! TPEA now offers an online application form for payroll or annuity deduction, as well as payment by credit or debit card. At only $6 per month active and $2.50 per month for retirees, TPEA membership is one of the best investments you can make in the future of your pay and benefits as a state employee.