Pension/health benefits reform bill being introduced today

The pension and health benefits reform legislation S2937 sponsored by Sen. President Steve Sweeney is being introduced today.

Among other things, the bill creates two new committees, one for the state Health Benefits Program and one for the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program.

Half of the committee memers will be named by the governor and half by certain unions.

Also, as the unions feared, the bill has a provision that starting Jan. 1, the use of certain out-of-state providers for health care benefits will be limited.

There is a ‘sunset’ provision in the bill: “The provisions concerning contributions for health care benefits will expire four years after the effective date.”

The bill would mandate a floor so that no public employee pays less than 1.5 percent of their salary toward benefits.

For retirement, “with regard to employee benefits, the bill provides for increases in the employee contribution rates: from 5.5% to 6.5% plus an additional 1% phased-in over 7 years beginning in the first year.”

Pension/health benefits reform bill being introduced today