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Bills Affecting retirees get watered down

March 3, 2011

In a 2 a.m. vote Tuesday, the committee passed an amended version of House Bill 1092, which would tax the pensions of those with a federal adjusted gross income of:

   * $100,000 for a taxpayer filing a single return or a married person filing separately. (Initially it was set at $37,500.)
   * $150,000 for a taxpayer filing as a head of household or surviving spouse. (Initially it was set at $56,250.)
   * $200,000 for taxpayers filing a joint return. (Initially it was set at $75,000.)

The state House Finance Committee, worried about legal implications, agreed tonight to end state Medicare Part B reimbursements only for future public worker retirees hired after July.

The committee reconsidered a vote taken on Saturday on a broader proposal that would have contained spending on the Medicare Part B benefit.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie had proposed ending Medicare Part B reimbursements for all retired public workers, which would have saved the state an estimated $41.7 million in fiscal year 2012 and $46.8 million in fiscal year 2013 to help with the state’s budget deficit.

The new version of HB1041 passed by the committee, which now goes to the full House for consideration, would not save the state any money until workers hired after July eventually retire.

Public-sector labor unions, and many retirees, objected to the governor’s proposal. The state Attorney General’s Office also warned that the governor’s proposal could invite a legal challenge by retirees who claim it is an accrued benefit protected by the state Constitution.

The House Finance Committee also voted to pass a bill that would freeze the salaries of state lawmakers and executive and judicial branch officials for two years to help with the deficit.

Our Board adopted its 2011 Legislative Priorities and highest was the support and expansion of the Kupuna Care Program.  The Hawaii Family Caregivers Association (HFCA), a HARA affiliate, is co-sponsoring with the AARP and the Lanikila Meals on Wheel a Kupuna Rally at the Capitol on Tuesday March 29.  Please see the flyer below.

 Now is the time to show our strong, visible support for expansion of the Kupuna Care Program.  Please discuss this Rally with the leadership of your respective organizations and encourage a strong turnout of your members at this Rally.  Encourage your members to wear your organizational shirts.  There will be a March for Meals around the capitol starting at 10:30 a.m. followed by the Rally at 11 a.m.

 There are several rumors circulating concerning teacher spouses losing medical benefits unless the teacher retires by June 30, 2011.  Presently there are NO such bills.  House Bill (HB) 826 did contain language affecting medical for spouses tied to a retirement date however, that bill was not heard by any committee so in essence that bill is dead.   

In 2001 a bill was enacted removing spouses of new employees hired as of January 1, 2001 from being eligible for medical benefits upon retirement.  That law is now in its tenth year.

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