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Battle continues concerning possible cut in state employee benefits and longevity pay

By Bonnie Davis Guy
Governor Bill Haslam’s budget proposal to eliminate longevity pay for state employees with more than three years’ service has been stalled in committee for the last three weeks. It will be heard again today, Wednesday, April 1, 2015. This proposal has received strong opposition from many of our state’s employees, representatives and the Tennessee State Employee Association (TSEA).
Until now, state employees such as those working through the Department of Corrections at North East Correctional Facility here in Johnson County have received a yearly longevity payment once they have reached the three-year mark of service. The payment system in place is $100 for every year of service up to 30 years or $3000. This was in addition to merit raises which are based on a tier evaluation system. In lean budget years such as last year, no raises are received even for those achieving excellent evaluations. The longevity pay was the only increase the long-term employees received during those years.
Another budget proposal causing concern for state employees is SB607/ HB648 which proposes to decrease the percentage of insurance coverage for the dependents of state employees from the current 80% contribution to a 70% contribution. This bill would also eliminate coverage for employee spouses who have group insurance available to them through their own employer. Finally this bill would eliminate insurance benefits after retirement for anyone hired after July 1, 2015. This bill is being sponsored by Senator Mark S. Norris and Representative Gerald McCormick.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.