2015 EM Retired Annual Meeting

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2015 Retired Annual Meeting

By Bobbie Margo

The 2015 Education Minnesota Retired Annual Meeting was held Friday, April 17 at the Sheet Metal Workers Union Hall in Maplewood. To start the morning, a great breakfast and a great“Welcome”were provided by President Larry Koenck to the 45+ attendees.

Kathy Micheletti, an Education Minnesota lobbyist, presented an update on the 2015 Legislative Session. There is a $1.8 billion surplus. The Governor's agenda is very education oriented; and surveys all across the State show that people are willing and favorable to spending money on education. Nevertheless, the ongoing debate is: should there be tax cuts or investment in State infrastructure? Keep attending“Eggs & Issues” and“Pizza & Politics”meetings to stay informed on the issues.

Rodney Rowe, Education Minnesota Secretary/Treasurer, reported on the“State of the Union”with Education Minnesota. The Annual Representative Convention was slated for later on in the weekend. The by-law amendment involving continuous membership was being proposed-AND-as of this writing-it passed!! This is a HUGE victory for Education Minnesota Retired! Rowe advocated that the value of union membership needs to be stressed time and time again; Education Minnesota is pushing forward with this agenda because presently there are several court cases dealing with fair share and union dues. Loss of Education Minnesota union members could be devastating. The reauthorization of ESEA is progressing–concentration is on getting rid of AYP and standardized testing.

Next Joe and Siri (not iPhone Siri) from the Attorney General's Office gave a presentation on “Senior Scams.” Their office provides mediation and letter writing and also works with the Federal Trade Commission; their office provides interaction with real people and usually gets more attention from big business/private companies than an individual person. All complaints to the A.G's office actually need to be in writing.

Lunch was delicious and was provided by the United Educators’Credit Union. A warm“thank-you”was extended.

President Koenck then conducted the Annual Business Meeting. The agenda and last year's minutes were approved. The Budget/Financial Report, Standing Committee Reports, the President's Report and Resolutions were printed and were part of the Annual Meeting packet. All reports were received and accepted. The Education Minnesota Retired By-Laws which had been updated by Education Minnesota Attorney Christina Clark and passed by the Retired Governing Board were also passed by the Annual Meeting attendees. Boy Toy (Treasurer for 8 years) and Ed Rapp (Resolutions Chair for 18 years) will not be continuing in these positions. A sincereTHANK-YOU to both of them for their trusted dedication and hard work. The Installation of new Officers and Congressional District Directors was then completed by President Koenck.

The final session of the day was the TRA presentation by Laurie Fiori-Hacking and Luther Thompson. TRA continues to be very disciplined with its funding. A major question continues to be: is TRA taking in enough money every year to cover payments and to continue to boost the funding percentage? The current 2015 Omnibus Retirement Bill is 190 pages long! MN has not operated like other states as over $6 billion was cut to get us back on track. We need to remember the previous statement as a positive fact regarding the health of our pension fund because….. not only is GASB (Government Accounting Standards Board) lurking, but their figures also come out this year! School districts will have to report their share of TRA's and PERA's pension debt on their financial statements. These figures will make pension costs appear larger and more volatile-the media/newspapers will eagerly print as much negativity as possible. A key point to remember: nothing is new or will have changed with the reporting of these figures; these figures are like one's unpaid mortgage.

Informative sessions, good food, retiree bonding, and fun door prizes all made for a wonderful day and a great meeting. See you next year!