On Tuesday, the NH Fiscal Committee voted to increase the monthly cost share (premium) of retirees who are under age 65. The amount is a 5% increase, which, when announced, caused an audible collective gasp from a room packed with State retirees. These are the people who have served the State for decades and had planned their lives and retirement according to promises that had been made at the time of employment and are being broken today by state politicians.
The increase moves the monthly cost from 12.5% to 17.5% of the premium.
“This vote is a continuation of breaking promises that were made to people who spent their careers serving this state,” said Rich Gulla, president of SEA/SEIU Local 1984. “Today, a handful of politicians decided the fate of over 3,000 devoted, hard-working former employees and their dependents. The committee kept talking about no other alternatives. There were plenty of alternative ways to fill the deficit in the retirees’ health benefit plan. They just took the easy way out today – on the backs of retirees.”
Committee members repeatedly attempted a blame game. They tried to blame the Governor, they tried to blame increasing medical costs; they tried to blame everything and everyone other than themselves. However, after all the grandstanding, they were the ones who voted for today’s state retiree’s health plan changes. They could have found another way to plug the budget hole including opening up the State budget and finding the dollars someplace else.
It was apparent to attendees that the outcome of the meeting was pre-determined prior to its convening. “They knew full well how they were going to vote, even before today’s meeting began. They had already made up their minds to put the screws to the retirees who are under age 65,” said Gulla.
Last month, the committee voted to increase the co-payment for prescriptions for all retirees. “In combination, these increases are going to present a significant hardship for our retirees. The average pension for a NH State retiree is about $13,000/year. Our retirees will literally be deciding between paying their heating and grocery bills or paying for medical care. It just sickens me,” said Gulla.
“The only way to stop this assault on our retirees is to vote out those Representatives and Senators who voted for this atrocity today,” said Gulla. Senator Little made the motion to accept today’s plan and Representative Weyler seconded the motion.
It is also important to know that Senators Lou D’Allesandro and Andy Sanborn and Representatives Daniel Eaton and Cindy Rosenwald voted against the increases and in favor and respect of our state retirees. “For that, we thank them,” said Gulla. The remaining Fiscal Committee members voted against the retired workers. “Our members will not forget this; you can be sure they will remember exactly who was with them and against them next fall as they cast their ballots.”