Vermont Blue Advantage phone reps have promised us retired teachers an Advantage information “kit” for mid-October. An opt-out date of Oct. 27 for keeping our original Medicare has been given scant notice.
For public-sector labor unions, who are trying to stave off the prospect of deep pension cuts as lawmakers contemplate new ways to tackle the system’s growing debts, the timing could not be better.
Between trimming benefits and asking for higher contributions, the proposal would cost school workers a cumulative $300 million. For state employees, the cost would be about $200 million. Legislators are offering to budget for an extra $150 million one-time contribution.
Had Beth Pearce and the pension investment committee invested Vermont’s pension funds in a 70% S&P 500, 30% Bloomberg bond index fund over the past decade — much lower risk than the current approach — there would be over 30% more in assets in the state’s pension funds, a total of $1.5 billion.
“Here’s how it appears to our members,” said Steve Howard of the state employees union. “A secret committee is meeting to put together a plan that’s going to drop from the sky.”
The governor has also suggested putting part of the state’s unexpected budget surplus toward the extra $100 million the pensions need to remain solvent for now.
The state has underfunded the pension system for decades, and the state treasurer says the gap is so big, action is needed now.
Only Auditor Doug Hoffer faced a primary challenge, and he easily downed Rep. Linda Joy Sullivan of Dorset, whom he may face again in the general election after she received write-in votes for the Republican nomination.
Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman brought in $130,328 since March, more money than either of his two Democratic rivals for the gubernatorial nomination.
The reports, written by the state treasurer and a consultant and commissioned by the Legislature, present a range of fiscal scenarios, none good.
Officials are hoping to receive some of the state’s federal financial aid while they take a deeper look at the colleges’ finances and future.
Voters will see proposals totaling almost $280 million; another $280 million in requests are expected over the next three years.
The homes, which make up about 7% of the housing in Vermont, have long been an affordable way for low-income people to lease or own their own property.
The bill would require the state to reduce emissions 26% below 2005 levels by 2025 — or roughly a quarter from present levels, in line with the goals set out in the Paris Climate Agreement.