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NEA Ed-Insider

Ed-Inside Oct 17, 2003

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Education Insider

A weekly review of progress on the Quality Public Schools Agenda and other legislation that impacts our students, classrooms, and public education.

October 17, 2003

Off the Floor, but in the Wings

Funding for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq dominated floor debate in both the House and Senate this week. But votes on issues in the wings can come at any time.
Watch List
  • Voucher Vote Waits in the Senate
    A Senate vote on the District of Columbia budget bill (H.R. 2765), the vehicle for the NEA-opposed D.C. voucher plan, can come this week

    Tell your Senators that you oppose federally funded private and religious school vouchers. Urge them to do what's right. Ask them to vote NO to the false-hope of ill-conceived, taxpayer-paid private school vouchers in the District of Columbia."

  • Early Retirement Incentive Plans' Health Benefits
    Early Retirement Incentive plans that offer health benefits until the retiree is eligible for Medicare are at-risk under the "Age Discrimination in Employment Act." The Senate "Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Act of 2003" (S. 1, Sec. 631) would clarify that the coordination of employer-provided retiree medical benefits with Medicare (or a counterpart State plan) does not violate the Act. A House/Senate conference committee is negotiating a final bill.

    NEA supports Sec. 631
    . Without Sec. 631, school districts are unlikely to offer pre-Medicare health coverage to retirees.

    Tell Congress: "Please do not make it legally impractical for my school district to continue its retiree medical plan. Include Sec. 631 of S.1 in any final Medicare prescription drug bill."

  • Social Security Offsets
    H.R. 743, a broad package of Enron-related pension issues, includes two NEA-opposed provisions - Sec. 210 and Sec. 418 - that make the Social Security offsets' impact even harsher. These offsets reduce benefits earned by an affected public employee [Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP)] or spousal benefits earned by an affected public employee's deceased spouse [Government Pension Offset (GPO)].
Sec. 418 prohibits employees of non-Social Security districts from protecting spousal benefits against the GPO by switching jobs at the end of their careers. The eligibility requirement for full spousal benefits would change from working one day to working five years in a Social Security district.

Sec. 210 tightens enforcement of the GPO and the WEP through coordination of employer, IRS, and Social Security Administration data.

Tell Senators: H.R. 743 must not pass with Sec. 210 and Sec. 418. They should focus instead on repeal of these unfair offsets by supporting S. 349.

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