June 23, 2017

CalPERS has completed negotiations with the various health plan providers to establish monthly premiums for next year. On average, premiums will increase by 2.3% beginning in January, but vary widely by provider. For example, Kaiser premiums will increase by 8.2% while Blue Shield Access+ premiums will drop by 9.4%, although they will still be higher than Kaiser. The premiums for all three PERS PPO plans – PERSCare, PERS Choice, and PERS Select – will drop in 2018.

The state’s share of the premiums for PECG-represented employees, based on a weighted average percentage of the four most utilized plans, are still being calculated. Once that figure is determined, PECG will publish all of the data, including your out of pocket cost, in an upcoming Informer to assist you in determining whether you want to make any changes to your health plan choices during the open enrollment period from September 11 to October 6.

For those of you who want to get a sneak preview for what the rates will be in 2018, click here.

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A key decision point may be nearing for the Governor’s proposed controversial twin 40-foot diameter tunnels to convey water under the Sacramento Delta. The state’s largest water agencies have set a September deadline to determine whether they wish to pay for the project. The cost and who pays for it, the amount of water to be delivered, a variety of environmental impacts, and numerous other issues have been debated for years. The anticipated September decisions by the affected water agencies could be a major step in determining whether the project proceeds.

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The Legislature approved a $183 billion State Budget package and sent it to the Governor for his approval by the end of the month. While the Governor could “blue pencil” or reduce some items, the Budget bills were the result of negotiations, so major reductions are not anticipated.

The Budget includes a 2% salary increase on July 1 for all PECG-represented employees (Unit 9 and related Supervisors) and funding for the state’s share of anticipated health plan premium increases in January. In addition to funding the state’s $5.8 billion contribution to CalPERS for state employee pensions, the Governor also proposed, and the Legislature agreed, to include an additional $6 billion to help reduce the unfunded pension liability in the future.

The Budget includes authorization for hiring more than 400 Caltrans engineers and other employees to fill vacancies in the Capital Outlay Support (COS) program. This was the result of the Legislature’s approval of an increase in fuel and vehicle taxes to fund improvements to transportation infrastructure. New positions are also authorized at the Water Resources Control Board.

PECG members at the Division of the State Architect (DSA) review and approve plans for public school projects for conformance with structural, fire/life safety, and accessibility building requirements. The maximum allowable fee has been less than 1% of the project cost and has not changed since 1981. As that funding level is now inadequate to support DSA’s function, the Budget authorizes an increase in the cap.

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The monthly meeting between Caltrans management and PECG occurred last week. In addition to hiring and staffing increases, discussion topics included federal reimbursement for storm damage and other activities; the Senior Transportation Electrical Engineer exam; Caltrans’ participation in the AB 2800 working group which addresses the projected impact of climate change on state infrastructure engineering; and the success of the California middle school team in taking second place at the National AASHTO Bridge Building Competition. The California team was the winner in the PECG-sponsored California Model Bridge Building competition earlier this year. To view a video, click here.

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You are receiving these Weekly Update emails, but are you also getting information PECG is mailing to your home address? PECG’s latest Informer newsletter, #3 dated June 2017, was mailed to you (members and fee payers) last Friday. It featured “Storm damage and SB 1” as the lead article. Two upcoming Informers will include detailed information on the 2018 health plan premiums, including the new rates and your out-of-pocket cost, plus PECG election information and a ballot so you can vote for next year’s Corporate Officers.

If you have not yet received that Informer #3 which was mailed to your home address, that means we don’t have your current home address. Please email us with your mailing address so we can send this and other useful information to you.