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Governor VETOES EUTF bill

July 11, 2012

On July 10, 2012, Governor Neil Abercrombie vetoed Senate Bill 2214, which would have made employer healthcare contributions to the employer-union health benefits trust fund subject to impasse and arbitration.

Although upset by the governor’s veto, HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira was not surprised. “This EUTF bill would have been a way to level the playing field for these employees who for years have had to endure paying an exorbitant amount of their healthcare premiums,” he said. “The governor’s signing of the bill would have been a significant gesture of his support and understanding of what government employees have had to endure. The governor talks a lot about addressing the state budget shortfall by ‘sharing in the pain’ and ‘paddling the canoe together’ – but so far, it seems public employees are shouldering much of the burden.

“Unfortunately, this will represent yet another missed opportunity for the governor to demonstrate a support for collective bargaining for public employees, and instead represents a continuation of the effort by the state to control costs at the expense of its employees. Unlike the private sector, government workers pay a significant amount of their income – reduced income, at that – for medical premiums. On top of that, elected and appointed  officials continue to whine about the cost of retiree health care. The veto of this bill demonstrates that government employees will not be treated as assets to our community, but rather as cost-cutting pawns in a ‘race to the bottom’ game.

“Whether it was the effort to tax pensions and eliminate the Medicare Part B reimbursement for retirees, to the extremely difficult and frustrating contract negotiations and sluggish favored nation implementation, this Administration failed to show any fairness toward public workers – and leaves little optimism or hope that the future for these middle class, tax-paying government employees will improve.”

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