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President's Report

JUNE 2017

This month I would like to address a couple of legislative issues that NARFE is looking at.

State Taxing of Government Pensions: The first one deals with our State efforts to address the issue of government pensions being fully taxed.  Of course, there are only a few states that fully tax all pension income. California taxes them fully and has a high tax rate in the first place. Truly California is not friendly toward government pension income. The good news is that your California Federation is addressing this issue, looking at likely partnerships, sponsors for legislation that would reduce the tax burden, and the various possible approaches to reducing the taxing of these benefits. The numerous states that do not fully tax government pensions go about it in various ways. Some are based upon income, some tax a percentage or specific amounts, others exempt them completely. But it is apparent that the high tax rate can force or motivate retirees to look at other states that do not tax such pensions or reduce the taxes on these pensions, especially if they are living in an already high cost area. But the approach to change needs to include the many other folks whose pensions are being taxed besides federal workers. Thus, the change will only likely come from groups of city, county, teachers, state, and other pensioners working in concert with groups like NARFE. Moreover, we likely need a "champion" in the legislature to propose and move the bill needed. Please feel free to contact me with any ideas or issues you would like the NARFE group to address in this matter.  I will pass your comments on to the California NARFE Federation.

The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017: The second issue affects all federal workers and retirees, even though it may not seem that way at first look. The concern is a bi-partisan Congressional issue: The Postal Service Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 756. In particular, it would force current Postal Service retirees onto Medicare in order to continue their enrollment in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Postal retirees earned their retiree health benefits through hard work over the course of long careers. Under this legislation, in order to keep this health insurance, eligible retirees, as well as their spouses, are required to enroll in Medicare Part B. Postal retirees should not be forced to pay additional premiums for often-duplicative Medicare coverage in order to keep health insurance. That was never part of the agreement made upon employment, and it should not be forced on any postal retiree retroactively. There are other solutions to the Postal Service's financial problems that do not include breaking promises to retirees who live on a fixed income. Why should a retiree, who spent their career serving this nation, be forced to pay an additional $134 per month, or more, for health coverage they previously deemed unnecessary and were not previously paying? Postal retirees should not be threatened with the loss of their health insurance entirely if they do not buy additional, sometimes duplicative coverage through Medicare. The implications of this being signed into law are significant. It is a significant taking away from federal employees, a benefit that workers believed they would receive, and it is requiring retirees to spend additional money to maintain their benefits. Finally, it can clearly be seen as a significant change that could be applied to the entire federal retiree group in the future. Thus, I suggest that you contact your representatives in opposing this bill. You can call your representatives at the NARFE toll free number 1-866-220-0044 or by going to the NARFE website and go to the Legislative Action Center and select the letter there about this issue and send it as is or with your personal comments, mailing it or sending it via email. I personally believe this is a particularly important issue that requires your action. NARFE is doing its job of protecting your earned benefits by opposing this legislation.


Jerry Hall
President, Chapter 65
Ph: 415-412-0488

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