A Member’s Thoughts on SB-6668

Editor’s Note:  The following is from an email circulated by Bradd Reynolds, PD Centralia Retired LEOFF1.  I am posting it without edits but want to encourage readers to recognize there are some errors and misstatements.  They are minor but can serve as an alert to double check on all you read — that includes the stuff I write.  What this letter does demonstrate is the complicated nature of the subject and emotional impact of this proposed bill.  Many thanks to Bradd.

By now I’m hoping that everyone is up to date on the merger bill / theft of our LEOFF1 retirement system.   If not, maybe this email will provide some helpful information.  Along with a urgent request.

I attended the Ways and Means Committee hearing on this bill this morning in Olympia. There was a good turnout of retired officers and some retired fireman.

It was obvious from the start that Senator Braun, the Sponsor of this bill and Committee Chair, had no interest in what we had to say.  His mind is made up and he is going through the steps to get this on the floor and passed.

First he waived the five day rule for public notice on a hearing.  We had less than 24 hours’ notice. Then he reduced the amount of time each of those who wanted to address the Committee could speak to one minute.

Before any of us spoke, the narrative of the bill was read on behalf of Senator Braun.  It was misleading at times, and in one instance, where they claimed the state paid for some of our medical expenses out of the fund was flat out wrong.

Four or five retired officers addressed the committee, including myself, along with one fireman and one wife of a fireman.  Also a representative from the Washington state association of cities, one from the counties group and one lady from the LEOFF1 coalition.  I’m sorry I did not write down all the names.  I knew a couple of them,  Retired Sgt. Glenn Teeter from Centralia PD,  Retired Det. Deputy Mark Curtis Thurston County SO.  I apologize I do not have the other names.

Our voice was heard.  But it may have fallen on deaf ears.  It was obvious Senator Braun and a couple others are going to do whatever they can to raid our system and give it to the teachers system.

On the other side of the coin, there were a couple of Senators who questioned the bill and had questions for Senator Braun.  He cut them off at the knee and only one of them persisted with his questions and statements.  So not everyone on that Committee has bought into this raid.

The bottom line, to me anyway, is that the teachers 1 system is in big trouble.  They are well underfunded.  Partially due to the fact that the legislators have taken money out of their system and used it for bridges and highways and other state budget items.  They did not pay that money back.  So now they want us to cover their bets for them.

They stated today, and in the bill that the merger of the two systems will have no effect on LEOFF1 benefits. (keep in mind they came into the meeting thinking that the state paid our medical bills)  That they are projecting down the road that the new fund will be healthy.  That is based on a 7% guaranteed return on investments.   Are you kidding me? Who can guarantee that in this economy.

For me, I’m afraid of three things if the merger takes place.
1)  The Cities / Counties will no longer be obligated under LEOFF1, since LEOFF1 is gone, to buy our insurance and pay our deductibles and co pays.   They would love to get out from under that.  In my own case my local board has already refused to pay a bill for me, over $10,000 that is clearly stated in the RCW and LEOFF 1 handbook as a paid benefit.  They told me the city of Centralia could not afford it and that I could sue them or the state system if I wanted someone else to pay it.  Will they be mandated by the new law to continue paying our medical cost?

2) My second concern is simple math.  With an over funded system that we have now, and will lose if we see the merger, can the legislators come to us down the road and say, sorry we can’t afford to pay you the same benefits any longer.

While many feel our benefits are guaranteed and can never be taken away from us regardless of a merger or not…in some states we have already seen retirement benefits reduced and that action being up held in the courts based on the states saying they do not have the money.

That’s not a problem if we keep the L1 system.  Could it be if we merge?  I don’t want to find out.

3) My 3rd major concern is for those of us who are retired for on the job injuries.  As you know those retirement checks are tax-free.  The IRS has no problem with it.  But will they if LEOFF1 is gone and our money then comes out of the new merged teachers system?  I for one do not want to hope the IRS green lights it.   That is not a question if we have no merger.

Many others have different concerns then me.  All of which are valid.

So…as of now, while I write this email, the SB6668 is alive and well.  The Ways and Means committee goes into Executive Session on Thursday to discuss it.  Then they can send it to the floor for a vote.  If they do not kill it.

WE MUST EACH AND EVERYONE OF US….email our Representatives and Senator.   Tell them you oppose this bill and tell them why.  Or simply say you are opposed.

This is an election year for many of them…they should listen to us.  But if we don’t contact them, they won’t know what we think and what we feel.  They will only go on what the sponsor of the bill tells them on the floor.

Go on line to http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/
Find your district.  Then click on the line “how to comment on a bill”.   Let them hear from you.  Ask them to call you at your home so you can talk to them.   My Senator from Longview called me from the Senate floor yesterday.
•    Please don’t sit back and wait to see what happens.
•    Please don’t sit back and think someone else will do this for you.
•    We must help each other by taking a few minutes out and writing and or talking to these people who hold the future of LEOFF1 in their hands.
•    If this bill passes without us all doing our part… it rest on our shoulders to suffer the results.
I’m sorry to be so long winded.   I hope this information may help you to understand, and to take a stand.

I make $30,000.00 a year from my LEOFF1 retirement and $187.00 a month social security, (yep that’s it after paying in for 32 years)   I for one, do not want my L1 benefits cut, reduced or taken a way.  If the insurance and deductibles and co pays and Rx are lost due to the merger, and I’m not saying it will be for sure, but it won’t be for sure if we have no merger, then I will end up living on about $18,000 per year.  That’s poverty.  Is that what I deserve?  Do the math on your own numbers.   See what you think when you figure out the potential loss for you and your spouse.
If those clowns can pay us each $5,000.00 for hush money, then they can increase our benefits.
We have about 8,000 retired and working L1 members.  We each have a voice…Let’s use it.

Excuse me if you receive this email more than one time. I am using cross email list and may have some duplicates.  Many of the names are BCC because I do not have permission to share those names.  Please pass this along.
Warmest regards,

Bradd Reynolds
PD Centralia Retired LEOFF1
cell 360.520.6562

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