We want to wish all of you the best of health. You remain in our thoughts as we live through this pandemic. Obviously our lives have changed drastically. The issues we care about, maintaining our pension and health insurance, remain. Our advocacy will continue, but some changes have occurred.
As you may know, the Connecticut capitol building closed this year and Legislators did not return before May 6, the Constitutional adjournment date. The General Assembly and Senate held no meetings or hearings in the capitol. Consequently the ARTC Legislative Committee meetings, our Meet and Greet with Legislators in Hartford and Lobby Day were canceled.
Nevertheless, although we are volunteers, ARTC remains committed to be abreast of and advocate for our issues. Our Executive Committee holds monthly phone conferences and our Legislative Committee is in frequent contact with our Lobbyist Kevin Graff. As Legislative Chairs, we receive weekly reports of any issues of concern to retired teachers and daily reports on the Governor’s updates. The information largely centers on the devastating human toll of the Coronavirus as well as its economic impact on the State. The last report has projected that the State would end the year with a $530.2 million budget deficit.
The Legislative Committee along with our Lobbyist will be following closely how the State’s revenue, impacted by the shutdown and the Market downturn, will affect our pension fund and its investment returns. Because teacher pensions can be changed legislatively, we must all remain diligent.
A Special Session of the Legislature may be called as early as this summer to address necessary action regarding adjustments to the State budget and/or public health legislation in response to the pandemic. Although hearings never took place, we have prepared written drafts in response to Raised Bill 440 (supporting the investment assumption rate of 6.9% for the COLA) and Raised Bill 438 (offering arguments for an additional retired teacher to appointed on the TRB). Should these bills remain raised and/or any other bills that might affect retired teachers be raised, we will be in contact with members for further advocacy.
Critical information of our issues will be sent through SendBlasts from the ARTC Office and be posted on our Website (ARTCT.org). Meanwhile, please observe all the guidelines for being safe. We are concerned for all of you.
Cathy D’Agostino and Sandra Bove
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