Under-65 Group Hit Twice as State Tries to Close Budget Gap
This week, state retirees were dealt another heavy blow, as the Fiscal Committee increased the monthly premium paid by retirees in the under-65 group. This comes just a few weeks after the same committee increased co-pays for prescription drugs for all retirees.
Both of the changes made help close a $10.6 million budget shortfall for retiree benefits, but does so on the backs of those same retirees. The change approved Tuesday increases under-65 retirees’ cost share from 12.5 percent to 17.5 percent, which comes out to a 40 percent hike. Most troubling is that there’s little to stop lawmakers from further increasing premiums in the future.
Recent retiree Dana Mosher said that increase is a big deal, because retirees likely won’t see a cost of living raise any time soon. Mosher was at the meeting Tuesday, and said he was frustrated by what played out.
“I’m pretty upset that they picked my pocket for another $100 a month, because I need to pay for myself and my wife,” said Mosher, who worked for the Community College System of NH.
Mosher said there were other ways to solve the problem, but on Tuesday the committee wasn’t in the mood for discussion.
“They had their minds made up: they were ready to blame the governor,” he said. “They’re using it as a political football, and that’s not fair to retirees who expected to have a relatively stable contribution toward their health insurance.”
Mosher noted that not all members of the committee voted in favor of the increases. Sens. Lou D’Allesandro and Andy Sanborn were joined by Reps. Daniel Eaton and Cindy Rosenwald in rejecting the increases.
If you’re keeping notes for the next election (and you should be), that means that Sens. Jeanie Forrester, Jerry Little and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Morse voted for the increases, along with Reps. Neal Kurk, Lynne Ober and Ken Weyler. Little made the motion to accept the increases, and Weyler seconded. SEA/SEIU Local 1984 President Rich Gulla said voters must hold these lawmakers accountable next November.
“The only way to stop this assault on our retirees is to vote out these representatives and senators who voted for this atrocity today,” Gulla said.