Last year, the Legislature decided to cut $1.25 million dollars directly from SYSC. The Legislature also decided to cut an additional $7 million dollars from all of DHHS. These are two different budget cuts and are being addressed in the following ways:
The $1.25 million dollar cuts affect everyone!
To recap, the SYSC administration decided to deal with the $1.25 million cut by not filling four positions – two teachers, one nurse and one secretary; downgrading a RNIII to a RN II; restructuring the ordering of food and discontinuing the employee paid lunch; reducing costs in the business office; and reducing the cost of supplies. Director Sampson issued a letter in February stating that SYSC plans to meet the rest of the $1.25 million dollar cuts by eliminating the teacher enhancement pay and possibly laying off additional employees. Click here to see the letter from Commissioner Toumpas to the Legislature and here for Director Sampson’s letter to SYSC staff.
What is the teacher enhancement pay? Back in 1993, there was a settlement to a lawsuit (James O.) that, among many other changes, required teachers to be paid a comparable wage to other teachers in the same geographical area. This resulted in the teacher wages being “enhanced” by 15-25% – this change in salary is now comparable with other Manchester area teachers who perform a similar job. These pay rates have been in place for more than 20 years and the teachers that were hired were not aware that the pay rate was not permanent. It is simply not fair that the SYSC administration would cut this pay. Are Director Bishop or Commissioner Toumpas taking a 25% cut in their pay? When the State decided to cut the shift differential pay for hourly employees, the SEA filed grievances and recently won the case!
The teachers have been taking action by contacting their legislators, the Executive Council and the Governor and as a result got their pay extended until June 2014. However, the teachers were formally notified on February 21st that the Department is still moving forward with slashing their wages, so the fight continues and they need everyone’s support!
An unfair labor practice will be filed. Meetings with Governor Hassan and House Representatives are scheduled. The teachers created a petition and have been gathering signatures – will you sign in support?
Lastly, we are working with the legislature to restore the $1.25 million, the $7 million and trying to fix the teacher pay – see more details below.
The $7 million dollar cuts affect everyone too!
DHHS has not publicly shared how they will address the $7 million dollar budget cut but there is surplus in the State budget! HB1411, would divert part of the state’s $15.3 million surplus to restore the back-of-the-budget cut made to Health and Human Services last year. HB 1411, would also send $8.3 million to the state’s rainy day fund. The bill passed the House, however, looks to face a rough road in the Senate because they already approved its own plan to send the entire surplus to the rainy day fund.
Please contact members of the senate finance committee and urge them to restore that funding to make sure HHS workers can continue to provide the critical services that Granite Staters need. You can access the committee members and their contact information here.