VSEA Legislative Goals Memo To Speaker & Pro Tem

Retirement Security- Government Operations and Appropriations

  • Form a summer study committee to determine what changes need to be made to increase the likelihood of the State of Vermont reaching the 7% investment target, and to see what the impact of new revenues and one time contributions is on the pension, as well the impacts any changes will have on the state workforce and the Vermont economy.  
  • Create and dedicate a 3-5% temporary surcharge on household income over $500,000 dedicated to the retirement system  until the unfunded liability is paid off.  
  • Dedicate as much federal funding as allowable to the unfunded liability and one-time funds like settlements or revenues from the sale of state assets.
  • Pass legislation introduced by Representative Robert Hooper to codify the Burlington Firefighters’ Decision.

Oppose Treasurer Pearce’s recommended changes and any plan that is substantially similar to her proposal.  

House Committee on Appropriations

  • See Retirement Security position above.
  • Support funding for Year 2 of the Collective Bargaining Agreements with the State, the Judiciary, the Offices of the State’s Attorneys and the VSEA.
  • Fully fund the Vermont State Colleges’ request for additional ongoing funding of $37 million dollars.
  • Make additional funding commitments to address the lack of beds for CHINS and Justice Involved Youth and additional support for foster families in the Department for Children and Families, particularly the requests made by the St. Albans District Office.   

House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development

  • Pass the provisions of DR-21072 by Representative Emma Mulvaney-Stanak that require all intake, processing, administration and adjudication of employment insurance claims to be performed only by state employees.

House Committee on Corrections and Institutions

  • Oppose the language in DR 21-0897, The Miscellaneous Corrections Committee Bill that tramples on collective bargaining and attempts to transfer the blame for the breakdown in the culture of the Department of Corrections from the failures of management to the already abused front line workers. Please instead focus on the major issue of the staffing crisis that VSEA has begged this committee to address for years. This is the most widespread and comprehensive problem facing the Department of Corrections.
  • H. 98— In response to the brutal murder of Lara Sobel, a DCF Family Services Supervisor, 5 years ago, and the January 2021 sexual assault on DCF Family Services Worker, Lisa Audunkinis as well as the numerous ongoing threats to state employees, and in light of the recent insurrection in Washington, D.C, VSEA urges your Committee on Corrections and Institutions to pass H.98, introduced by retired state employee Representative Mary E. Howard. VSEA has held extensive and frequent discussions with Rep. Emmons over the five-year period about the need for legislation like H. 98. 
  • H. 190 and H.191- Please pass Representative Barbara Rachelson’s legislation to end Vermont’s addiction to the morally bankrupt private prison industry.
  • Reopen the Windsor Correctional Facility to end the out-of-state private prison contract with CoreCivic or use the facility to solve the bed crisis for youth in the custody of DCF. End the contract with Beckett and oppose the proposed sale of the Windsor Correctional Facility. Invest the funds that would go to renovate the leased Becket Facility into renovating this state-owned facility.
  • Support the construction of a state-owned and state-operated 16-bed secure residential step down facility in Essex at the site of the former Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility.

House Committee on Government Operations

  • Pass H.364, the so-called Anti-Privatization Bill that protects workers of private contractors doing business with the State of Vermont as well as state employees.
  • Pass H.330, An Act Relating to Designating Sheriff’s Deputies as Classified State Employees. The Transport Deputies who are paid for by the State and are provided state benefits have unanimously requested this change.  
  • Pass H.305 introduced by Representative Anthony that would create an enhanced retirement benefit for certain classifications that have physically and/or mentally demanding positions in state service similar to law enforcement. 
  • Pass H.358, legislation introduced by Representative Gannon to provide basic human rights to temporary state employees, while preventing the State and the Judiciary from misclassification.
  • Oppose H. 119 that would decimate the retirement benefit for state employees and would make the recruitment and retention of employees for state agencies even more challenging. It would increase dependence of seniors on government programs and hurt the economy of Vermont.
  • Oppose any legislation to create an Agency of Public Safety.
  • Spend significant time working with the Human Services and the Corrections and Institutions committees to address the lack of safety and security for state employees, particularly in the Department for Children and Families.  
  • Support Rep. Hooper of Burlington’s bill to extend last best offer arbitration to the classified employees of the Vermont Judiciary, or S. 78 when that bill is passed by the Senate.

House Health Care

  • Support the construction of a state-owned and state-operated 16- bed secure residential step-down facility in Essex at the site of the former Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility.
  • H. 103— Support this legislation to provide an independent review of Vermont’s current health reform efforts, including the Green Mountain Care Board and One Care Vermont
  • H. 266— Support this bill to increase insurance coverage for hearing aids.

House Committee on Human Services

  • Request that the Committee hold a public hearing and spend significant time working with the Government Operations Committee and the Corrections and Institutions Committee to address the safety and security of the employees in the Department for Children and Families.  
  • Assign the Committee the task of developing a plan to alleviate the crisis of a lack of bed space for youth in the custody of the Department for Children and Families created by the privatization of Woodside, which resulted in a pregnant Family Services Worker being sexually assaulted while watching a youth in a hotel room because of the lack of bed space.  

House Committee on Judiciary

  • H.203— Pass Representative Rachelson’s bill on threatening state employees.

House Committee on Transportation

  • H. 60— Pass this legislation, introduced by Representative Yacovone ,to require winter tires to protect state employees forced to use rental vehicles for state business without winter tires, especially workers in the Department for Children and Families who transport children.  

House Committee on Ways and Means

  • Direct the Committee to immediately develop a new revenue plan dedicated to the elimination of the unfunded pension liability for VSERS.