Legislation

RetirementSecurity1

Retiree Members Phil Garwood, Rob Peale and MSEA-SEIU Retiree Director Steve Butterfield lobbied legislators in March in support of the pension relief legislation enacted into law via the 2022 Bipartisan State Budget.

130th Maine Legislature —
Enacted 2022 Bipartisan State Budget delivers targeted relief, invests in services, strengthens our retirement security

In April, the Legislature passed  the 2022 Bipartisan State Budget and Governor Janet Mills signed it into law the following day. The budget earned unanimous support in the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee; it delivers targeted relief to Mainers, including the $850 relief checks, and invests in workforce training, education and child care, and funding for nursing homes, hospitals, and long-term care.

The budget makes key improvements to MainePERS retirement pensions. It increased the 2021 cumulative cost of living adjustment (COLA) by an additional 1% and added an additional 2.4% to the pension base, both for participants in the State/Teacher/Legislative/Judicial Retirement Plan.

2022 session of the Maine Legislature: Retirement gains for MainePERS participants

September 2022: 3% retiree COLA for State/Teacher Plan participants; 2.5% retiree COLA for eligible PLD participan

For all retired Maine workers, including all MainePERS participants, the budget exempts the first $25,000 in pension income from state income tax beginning next year, and increases that exemption by $5,000 a year until it matches the Social Security exemption. This is all a step forward toward reversing the devastating cuts made by former Governor Paul LePage and the 125th Legislature and in 2011.

We are also excited to see funding for a dedicated overnight and weekend shift within the Office of Child and Family Services; this will help provide much-needed relief for Child Protective Caseworkers, who are currently facing overwhelming caseloads and unsustainable levels of mandatory overtime. The budget also contains numerous reclassification and additional positions within various departments of state government.

While we weren’t able to secure supplemental funding to close the state employee pay gap this session, MSEA-SEIU members made the Legislature’s State and Local Government Committee aware of the urgent need to close the pay gap. The work on the Compensation and Classification Study continues. We will continue to push to fund and implement the results of that work in the next biennial budget and in next year’s Executive Branch contract negotiations.

In addition to the investments in our members and the services we provide, the supplemental budget also makes key investments to help all working families in Maine. But make no mistake: The gains we made in this supplemental budget only happened because so many members showed up and made their voices heard.

We packed the halls of the State House; we made calls and wrote emails; we made the Legislature listen to our concerns.
The initial supplemental budget proposal included a one-time 2.4% retiree cost of living adjustment that cost $14 million; because of our advocacy, the budget now includes approximately $105 million for MainePERS pension improvements! Let’s build on this momentum by electing pro-worker candidates in the Nov. 8, 2022, General Elections. That way, we  can continue to make progress with a pro-worker, pro-union Legislature in 2023.

Scorecard2

In 2022, we secured passage and enactment of LD 1780, which lets the workers we represent at three schools in Maine’s unorganized territories negotiate for annualized pay. This is necesssary for these workers to avoid interruptions of their individual and family healthcare, eyecare and dental care every summer when school isn’t in session. Lower right in top photo: MSEA-SEIU Field Representative Robin Upton-Sukeforth testifies in support of LD 1780.

Scorecard3

MSEA-SEIU President Dean Staffieri stands with State Rep. Mark Bryant, who voted 100% pro-MSEA and pro-worker on every legislative proposal we tracked in our 2022 Legislative Scorecard. With Rep. Bryant’s support, we defeated bad legislation known as LD 2039 that would have eliminated Child Development Services. Check our Scorecard to see whether your state senator and state representative voted pro-MSEA and pro-worker in 2021 and 2022.

RepDonnaDoore1

Few individuals have done so much for all Maine workers, active and retired, for so long as the late State Rep. and MSEA-SEIU Retiree Member Donna Doore, shown at lower left with her union siblings. A longtime member of our union, both as a career public servant and as a retiree, Rep. Doore of Augusta died Jan. 31, 2022, after a long battle with cancer.

Updated: September 19, 2022 — 1:36 PM