The pace is picking up as the Health Care Authority (HCA) prepares the School Employee Benefits Board (SEBB) to make decisions on plan structure and plan eligibility (big deal for classified employees who work on the bubble – at least 3.5 hours per day). As if that isn’t enough, plans for negotiations with Governor Inslee’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) are well underway with a tentative negotiation start date of July 20. Though my blog entries in the past have exclusively focused on legislative session activities, I have decided to blog on the progress of SEBB decision-making and SEBB negotiations with OFM over the next several months. Enjoy…
SEBB consists of 9 individuals appointed by Governor Inslee who have been meeting and making decisions (known as resolutions) about plan design and plan eligibility (who qualifies to be in the plan). They have been passing numerous resolutions since they began meeting on October 23, 2017. Mostof those early resolutions were procedural and were passed without any dissent. Over the last several meetings, the resolutions are beginning to shape plans that will be offered.
At yesterday’s June 13, 2018, meeting the Board passed several motions that will start development of the medical plans. Not surprisingly, the resolutions started out with plans that will look similar to PEBB (Public Employee Benefits Board) plans but the constant conversation and effort of the Board is tailoring the PEBB plans to K 12. For instance, the Board is looking into a separate stand-alone vision plan (rather than an embedded vision plan as in PEBB) as well as looking at the costs surrounding increasing the number of visits to specialists like OT, PT, massage, chiropractors, etc.
If you are interested in what was discussed at the June 13 meeting, the HCA prepares “briefing books” for each meeting. All the resolutions behind Tab 8 were approved with the exception of resolution 2018-24 (that one was put off for now).
BTW: if you are interested to see which insurance companies have shown an interest in bidding for medical insurance coverage for K 12 starting January 1, 2020, (and more importantly which counties will they be offering their plans), go to Tab 8 of the May 30, 2018, meeting. Though this is only a showing of interest, it is a good sign that four insurance companies are interested in offering medical insurance in all 39 counties.
Next SEBB meeting: July 30, 2018.
Since SEBB benefits for all K 12 employees will be the same (Superintendents, teachers, classified), it requires that funding for those benefits be the same throughout the state. As a result, a coalition of unions representing school employees will be negotiating insurance funding with OFM starting July 1, 2018. The purpose is to determine how much the state and employers will pay for monthly insurance benefits for all employees who work or anticipated to work more than 630 hours in a school year.
A steering committee led by the Washington Education Association (WEA) has met twice to decide how we are going to negotiate with OFM. The steering committee is composed of representatives from PSE, WEA, Operating Engineers, SEIU 925, and Teamsters. We have made good progress and expect to have a negotiation proposal finalized at our next meeting. Details of that proposal will be shared after it is approved by the steering committee. We will be asking for at least the same funding levels as state employees (they are also in negotiations for PEBB funding at the same time) plus full funding of the classified employee insurance benefit factor.
Next steering committee meeting: (July 10).
Governor Inslee has taken action (signed, vetoed, or partial vetoed) on hundreds of bills before him with only a couple left on his plate. The good news is the bills PSE worked on have already been signed and will take effect within the next 90 days. Here is the summary of his actions:
Paraeducators – SB 6388 was signed into law. It takes effect on June 7.
SEBB Improvements – SB 6241 was signed into law. It takes effect on June 7 with a couple emergency clauses that take effect immediately.
McCleary Fix – SB 6362 was signed law with a couple of section vetoes that didn’t directly affect classified employees. It has a variety of effective dates.
2018 Supplemental Budget – SB 6032 was signed into law with a couple of section vetoes that didn’t directly affect classified employees. It has a variety of effective dates.
Pro union bills – HB 2751 (requiring union member dues deduction) & SB 6229 (requiring employers to provide unions access to new employees within 90 days of hire) have both been signed into law. Both are effective on June 7.
Yes there were several hundred other bills that he signed but the bills noted above are the ones which will have the most direct effect on classified employees in the years ahead.
During this session, PSE has worked with the HCA (Health Care Authority) and WEA (Washington Education Association) to push through a bill to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board) by January 1, 2020. SB 6241 was approved late last night on a party line vote of 50-48. It is not uncommon for major pieces of legislation like last year’s SEBB bill, HB 2242, to be perfected in future years. Now we wait for Governor Inslee’s signature on the bill.
Examples of some of the changes approved last night:
Budget negotiators announced their final agreement last night, the day before the end of the session. Most of the major differences between the House and Senate budgets were ironed out previously so this final deal didn’t change any major issues. PSE had one additional measure we wanted the legislature to fund: $250,000 to develop paraeducator training modules. Good news is that the budget included that funding.
K 12 salary allocations will be fully funded in the 2018-19 school year at a cost of $776 million. The classified employee salary allocation will increase from $34,180 to $46,784.33 starting September 1, 2018. Normally, when there is an allocation increase, we get the same percentage increase to negotiate with our school districts. However, this 37% allocation increase does not mean we will get that full increase. In another bill, SB 6362, which hasn’t been voted on yet but must be voted upon before the end of the session, the legislature limits how much we can negotiate of the 37% increase. More on that after we see what the bill looks like.
Other details that didn’t change but are important to note:
On a party line vote of 50-48, SB 6241 passed the House. As reported in earlier entries, this bill is necessary for the Health Care Authority to implement SEBB effectively and in time for the January 1, 2020, launch date.
The bill now goes back to the Senate for their concurrence with an amendment added on the House floor. That amendment, approved by republicans and democrats, requires that insurance companies bidding on SEBB insurance plans must also offer a silver and gold insurance plan for the uninsured market in the counties they offer SEBB plans. This is the same issue that was brought up in HB 2408 which is breathing its last breath 🙂 (its dying because of the 5:00 pm deadline – 45 minutes away). PSE doesn’t like the amendment because we are concerned it may reduce insurance companies willing to offer SEBB insurance plans.
On a narrow 25-23 vote, the Senate approved its Supplemental Operating Budget yesterday. Though there were a couple of amendments approved, none of them changed issues of interest to PSE. They fully funded the increased salary allocation starting September 1, 2018, provided an additional $20 million to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board), and funded $250,000 for development of paraeducator training modules.
Once the House has completed its budget, the House and Senate budget negotiators will iron out the differences in their budgets.
The House budget released yesterday met only one of our 3 goals for this session. What they got right was fully funding SEBB implementation by adding $20 million for the HCA (Health Care Authority). This is critical to getting the SEBB airplane off the runway in time for its January 1, 2020, start date. The good news is that the House, Senate, and Governor Inslee have all released budgets supporting full funding of SEBB implementation.
I fully expected the House to follow the Senate’s lead by meeting demands of the Washington State Supreme Court to move classified employee salary allocation increases forward one year (effective September 1, 2018). Instead, the House ignored the Court and left in place the salary allocation increases over the next two years rather than the one year required by the Supreme Court.
One additional PSE measure they missed out on was funding for development of special education and TBIP (Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program) training modules for paraeducators. Fortunately for us, the issue is not dead because the Senate included it in their budget.
A confusing aspect of their budget was their proposal to add a .5 FTE family involvement coordinator to every elementary school at a cost of $28 million (interesting to note that this is scheduled to increase to 1 FTE in the 2020-21 school year). This position is a classified employee position but the budget puts them in the certificated employee funding allocation. This distinction becomes more important when you take into account another bill, HB 1618, which requires that this funding must be used to hire family involvement coordinators (in other words it can’t be used for any other purpose).
Looking closer at the Senate budget proposal, I found a couple of small items worth noting. First, they proposed raising insurance funding starting September 1, 2018, by $5.18 per month from $840 to $845.18. As a result of this change the retiree carve out will increase ninety cents from $68.67 to $69. 57. Finally, the September 1, 2018, minimum salary increase will be 2.3% (as a reminder, the maximum increase is still under debate).
Senate Ways and Means chair, Senator Christine Rolfes, just introduced her supplemental operating budget, SB 6032. In it she funded the one year earlier salary increase for K 12 as required by the Washington State Supreme Court, development of paraeducator training modules, and, fully funds the continued implementation of SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board).
As explained in an earlier entry, the Senate funds a significant increase in salary allocation (average 36.5% increase) to each school district for classified employees starting September 1, 2018. As explained in that entry, we are also limited in how much of that salary allocation increase we have access to in our 2018 negotiations.
On another subject, we asked for $500,000 for development of special education and ELL (English language learners) training modules but we got $250,000. This is a good start but we may need to come back next year for an enhancement to finish the job.
Finally, the Senate added an additional $20 million to the $8 million previously provided to the Health Care Authority (HCA) to implement SEBB.
After receiving a strong bi-partisan vote of 41-7 in the Senate yesterday, SB 6241 heads to the House for its consideration. Senator Hobbs was able to fend off misleading efforts by SEBB opponents choosing instead to focus on the benefits of SEBB and the need to address necessary changes to the SEBB bill passed last year.
Improved data sharing, allowance of longer insurance benefit plans in the 2018-19 school year, clearly describing that family to single employee ratio should be 3:1, allowance of employers to provide optional benefits not covered by SEBB, allowance of employers to fund insurance benefits for employees who work less than 630 hours, and clearly describing that SEBB funding should be at least the same as state employees in PEBB, were some of the more important changes in 6241.