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The Governor's Budget Proposal and How it Affects State Workers

Sisters and Brothers,

As many of you already know, on Tuesday night Gov. Jay Nixon delivered his annual State of the State address. This was Gov. Nixon’s opportunity to present the legislature with his budget proposal for next year. In his address, like in previous years, the Governor outlined how the recession has hurt all Missourians. Even though some folks say we’re slowly working our way out of the recession, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the budget. The state still isn’t collecting as much money as it has in the past. Because of this, cuts in service will once again be necessary to balance the budget.   

As Missouri’s public workers, you know better than anyone how budget cuts in previous years have affected the services we provide. It’s getting harder and harder to do our jobs. Because of this, when we hear the phrase “budget cuts,” we all get very nervous about what exactly that means.  Also because of this, you deserve to know what exactly the budget proposal means for your jobs and your facilities. Here are some of the things that affect our membership:

  • Pension Funding: No cuts or changes were proposed to the state employee pension system, or MOSERS.
  • Health Care: Missouri Consolidated Health Care Plan (MCHCP), the state’s health care provider, was funded the same amount as last year. It will now be up to us to make sure MCHCP knows how important it is to not raise our health care premiums.
  • Veterans Homes: No cuts or reductions were proposed to the state’s Veterans Homes.
  • Dept. of Mental Health: Cuts were made in DMH, but not nearly as many as feared. Of the 800 recommended cuts, only 40 come from mental health facilities. The majority of these cuts will be administrative positions in management.  Even though the number of cuts is small, it’s now more important than ever that we stand together to prevent these cuts from affecting our sisters and brothers.
  • Dept. of Corrections: Cuts were proposed, but only in the ranks of management. Our members will not see job cuts.
  • Office of Administration: Craft & Maintenance employees of OA will see no job cuts.
  • 2% Pay Raise: State employees were given a 2% pay raise that would take effect Jan. 1, 2013, not July 1, 2012 as was negotiated in our contract.

We have also been told that the administration is proposing to completely close Northwest Habilitation Center.  This will of course, have a dire impact on our members.  The proposal calls for the closure of the facility and job cuts in the ranks of management only. The employees and clients will be moved to another facility in the St. Louis area.  All of our members at Northwest Habilitation Center will have the opportunity to keep their job at one of these facilities. It is incredibly important to note that this is the only facility that is slated for closure.  Members who work at Northwest Habilitation Center will receive further communication from us in the very near future.

With regards to our 2% pay raise, our Bargaining Team members worked tirelessly for months during negotiations. When they decided to agree to the 2% pay raise, we were the only union to have a pay raise negotiated in our contract. Just so everyone is clear, this is not what we bargained for. All state employees should be outraged by this.

We are encouraging every state worker in all of our facilities to contact Gov. Nixon and tell him that this is not what we bargained for, and this is not what state employees deserve.  Below is a sample script for when you call the governor’s office.

The governor’s office number is: (573) 751-3222

Hello, my name is _______________________ and I am calling to leave a message for Governor Nixon.

Governor Nixon, as an AFSCME member and a dedicated state employee, I am extremely disappointed with your broken promise and decision not to propose our full 2% pay increase which was agreed to in our contract.  State workers have done our part in this tough economy by providing the highest quality services and going without pay raises for over 4 years, and Missouri can do better than having the worst-paid workforce in the nation.  I am asking you to reconsider this proposal and ask the legislature to make our 2% pay raise effective July 1, 2012, as your administration agreed to do.

Once you have contacted the governor’s office and expressed your disappointment, please encourage your coworkers, family members, and friends to contact him as well.  The governor cannot ignore a highly organized movement of dedicated state workers and our allies who are calling on him to keep his promise to ask the legislature to appropriate our pay raise.

No matter what, AFSCME will continue to fight to preserve and expand the rights of workers in Missouri and we ask you to continue to stand with us.

In Solidarity,

 

Alexandra Townsend, Political Coordinator

Josh McCarroll, Legislative Director



The New "Everything Tax" is Bad for Missouri

 

As you read this article, there is a proposal making its way through Missouri that will have a devastating impact on your finances. It’s called the Everything Tax and it would create a sweeping new tax on nearly everything you buy.

The Everything Tax is being circulated as a proposed amendment to the Missouri state constitution and it would replace the state income tax with a new, 10-percent, statewide sales tax that increases the tax you pay on most everything you buy, every day. Milk, bread, groceries, emergency room visits, in-home care costs, and car repairs for example are all taxed.

Needless to say, the Everything Tax will hit senior citizens especially hard. First, most senior citizens don’t pay any income tax to begin with, so eliminating it does nothing for them. Second, seniors tend to live on a fixed income and the Everything Tax would create a new expense they can’t afford by taxing their groceries, emergency room visits, and in-home care.

In addition, the Everything Tax makes an already bad budget situation in the Show Me State worse. First of all, sales tax revenues in Missouri have been decreasing over the last five years, not increasing. Tying the state’s budget to a decreasing pot of money is bad fiscal policy. Second, and perhaps more importantly, creating a new, 10-percent, statewide sales tax to replace the state income tax will result in a massive budget shortfall. When fully implemented in 2016, the Everything Tax will create a shortfall of $3.2 billion, forcing cuts to crucial programs like Medicaid.

A newly formed coalition, the Coalition for Missouri’s Future, is working to defeat the Everything Tax and you can help. Visit our website at www.MissouriFuture.org and while you’re there, sign up for our e-mail list and, if you can, volunteer to help us out down the road. The other side will have millions to spend on this, but we have the power of the millions of Missourians. We just need your help to harness it.

This article is by Richard Martin and James Moody who are the leaders of the Coalition for Missouri’s Future. AFSCME Council 72 is a member of the Coalition for Missouri’s Future.



Building a Stronger Union

Early this morning, AFSCME leaders from Missouri and Kansas started streaming into a conference center in Mid Missouri, excited and ready to continue building and growing the Union.  Sharing tips that have assisted members from Nevada to Farmington, St Joseph to Fulton, and Kansas City to St Louis in organizing for power, the energy in the room is one of momentum that can't be stopped.

Debbie Kistner, president of Local 622 in Nevada, told of organizing new members who see what the union is doing to fight back for workers' rights.  From North Kansas City Local 3820 we've heard powerful stories of standing up and fighting back against forces that would have done away with the union.

Above all, we are hearing of the determination from leaders to continue developing a strong, powerful union that builds a community in the workplace, enables workers with the skills to increase membership and putting in place a clear vision for setting goals and putting action plans in place to achive those goals.

When your leaders return to your local, ask them what they learned this weekend and how you, too, can be more involved in the Union. 

We're stronger together!

 



From Wisconsin to Wall Street

With the Occupy Wall Street protests resonating with citizens across the country calling for a fair economy and for the 1% to pay their fair share, an AFSCME brother from Wisconsin headed to Wall Street.  This is what he found:

 

To get more involved with Occupy actions in Missouri, check out Occupy St. Louis, Occupy Kansas City and Occupy Springfield.