weekly review of progress on the Quality Public Schools Agenda and
other legislation that impacts our students, classrooms, and public
Floor, but in the Wings
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.
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
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."
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
NEA supports Sec. 631. Without Sec. 631, school districts are
unlikely to offer pre-Medicare health coverage to retirees.
"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."
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)].
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.
tightens enforcement of the GPO and the WEP through coordination
of employer, IRS, and Social Security Administration data.
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
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