Don Mathre reported on the recent (Nov. 19) meeting of the Interunits Benefits Committee meeting. Glen Levitt is predicting that we will have nearly a 1 million dollar surplus this year (2002-2003) if things continue as they are for the first four months. However, he cautioned that it is still early in the fiscal year and things could change rapidly if we get hit with several very large payouts. Buck Consultants is predicting that we could have a surplus for the year 2003-22004 if the state increases their contribution by $44/month as currently planned. The Governor has recommended that this increase be given, but it would be financed out of vacancy savings. However, the Legislature will have the final say so stay tuned on this. Bottom line is that our plan is in good shape now and hopefully will continue this direction if the state increases its contribution to the plan.
The other thing that the Interunits committee is doing is having a number of sub-committees research several issues. One subcommittee will look at retiree issues as related to the plan, eg their premiums are going up fast since the state does not contribute anything to their premiums. Another subcommittee will look at the issue of basing premiums on salary level. Regent Mercer has requested that this study be done. This same subcommittee will also look at consumer driven health plans and a proposal from Eckert Drug Co that co-pays be changed from a dollar amount to a percentage amount. This would save the plan about $1.5 million, but would be costly to those of us who need the drugs. I doubt that this suggestion will be implemented.
The next meeting of the Interunits Committee will be Feb 6 with final decisions on next year's plan to be made at a meeting on March 6.
Doug Young gave an excellent presentation on the Montana economic picture and its relationship to taxation.