2014 Education Minnesota Retired Annual Meeting

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2014 Retired Annual Meeting

By Bobbie Margo

The 2014 Education Minnesota Retired Annual Meeting was held on Friday, April 25 at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Bloomington. There was a great breakfast provided and an equally great “Welcome” to the 66+ attendees from President Walt Munsterman. We started off with all of us introducing ourselves. I personally always find this very helpful-gives me a chance to put faces to names and also names to geographic locations in the state.

Jodee Buhr presented an update on the 2014 Legislative Session. All legislators are up for re-election this year, along with the Governor. This year’s Omnibus Bill contains all provisions, not only education, but also things like energy and agriculture provisions. House/Senate/Governor are each very far apart on funding for education. The “Bullying Bill” passed (cheers!), minimum wage bill passed ($9.50 an hour), but a business has to employ a certain number of individuals for minimum wage to go into effect.

Next Laurie Hacking spoke on the health and the well being of the TRA Pension Fund. Front and center is the financial status of the Duluth pension fund merger proposal. The merger cannot happen without full funding! The Governor supports the merger but has had a bit of “sticker shock” at the price tag-at least $14 million annually in state aid. At this point the TRA Pension Fund is 87% funded. (smile!) MN has been very successful in funding the plan (compared to other states). We are approximately 180,00+ strong with 75,00+ active contributors. We have 57,000+ collecting pensions and 45,000 members who are inactive-but decided to leave their contributions in the fund. On a final note, GASB REFUSES (moan!) to go away and sadly, starting in FY 2015, school districts must report their share of TRAs and PERAs unfunded liability on their financial statements.

After lunch, which was delicious and which was provided by California Casualty and the United Educators Credit Union, Shelley MacDonald spoke about the benefits available to Education Minnesota Retired members. We are 6,700+ strong. The biggest single factor in our growth is what is happening in education-NOW! Shelley represents ESI/NEA/AFT and provided us with information on the “Perks Connect” Program. Shelley also stressed that the huge real challenge ahead is to maintain public education, union strength, and pension security. All of this can be accomplished by being active with political power! Next up was a short presentation by Mike Roehl-the CFO of Education Minnesota. In the old days (my day) the CFO was the Business Manager. Roehl, who attends the TRA Board Meetings, explained that ED MN-R was sound financially. He also informed us that at the ED MN Representative Convention, being held later on during the weekend, a motion will be made to institute a study dealing with continuous membership in Education Minnesota Retired. Part of the motion is that the results of the study will be due in 2015.

Education Minnesota conveyed its greetings by way of President Denise Specht. Specht wished us well on the remainder of our sessions. She reminded us that a public school cannot operate without the voices of educators-both active and retired.

President Munsterman then conducted the Annual Business Meeting. The agenda and last year’s minutes were approved. The budget, the Standing Committee Reports, and the President’s Report were printed and were part of our Annual Meeting packet. Ed Rapp, Chair of the Resolutions Committee, reviewed Resolutions. Discussion ensued, and the document was approved.

The final presentation of the day was Dylan Kelly from the MN Attorney General’s Office. Kelly’s topic was “Senior Scams”, and his main message was “when in doubt, don’t give it out!” (credit card #s, etc) Scams have become increasingly sophisticated. Most scam phone numbers are hard to track down because they are usually coming from overseas. Scams have found a way to change area codes on your caller ID to register as a “local area code.” Email scams are also a huge problem, and computer crime is prosecuted by the Secret Service. If you suspect a scam or have been scammed, one needs to file a police report and to contact the MN Attorney General’s Office.

Education Minnesota Secretary-Treasurer Rodney Rowe then completed the Installation of NEW Officers and Congressional District Directors. The day ended with a drawing for door prizes. It was a wonderful meeting with informative sessions, great food, and lots of “retiree bonding.” Plan to attend next year! It will be time well spent!