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News

Department of Employee Trust Funds
February 23, 2017

ETF Provides Initial Review of 2017-2019 State Budget

On February 8, 2017, Governor Walker presented his 2017-2019 State Budget to the Legislature. ETF has completed an initial review of the budget bill. The following provisions (proposals) relate to the benefit programs that ETF administers:

  • Domestic Partnership Program – Eliminates the Chapter 40 domestic partnership program on the effective date of the bill; however, grandfathers existing domestic partnerships for purposes of Wisconsin Retirement System benefits. Additionally, group health insurance coverage under a group health plan offered by the Group Insurance Board (GIB) would no longer be extended to an employee’s domestic partner, effective January 1, 2018. It also provides that a surviving domestic partner is not a default beneficiary for purposes of a deferred compensation plan and is not eligible to receive duty disability survivorship benefits for deaths occurring on or after January 1, 2018.
  • Self-Insurance Savings – The budget anticipates the Group Insurance Board will transition to a self-insured group health model starting January 1, 2018. The projected savings are $20 million GPR in Fiscal Year 2018 and $40 million GPR in Fiscal Year 2019. 

ETF will continue reviewing the budget bill to identify all implications for the Wisconsin Retirement System and ETF-administered benefit programs. In late June, the Legislature will deliver an amended budget bill to Governor Walker for review, approval and/or partial veto of the budget to be effective July 1, 2017.

Below is a link to the entire budget bill:


Update August 25, 2017

 2017-2019 State Budget – JCF Recommendations

In June, the Joint Committee on Finance took action on ETF’s part of the 2017-2019 executive state budget, a proposal of how the state should manage expenses for the next two years. The budget bills, 2017 Assembly Bill 64 and 2017 Senate Bill 30, are currently before JCF and delayed past the July 1 deadline. 

The JCF made modifications to the following provisions (proposals) affecting benefit programs that ETF administers:

  • Domestic Partnership Program – Eliminates the Chapter 40 domestic partnership program on the effective date of the bill; however, grandfathers existing domestic partnerships for purposes of Wisconsin Retirement System benefits. Additionally, group health insurance coverage under a group health plan offered by the Group Insurance Board (GIB) would no longer be extended to an employee’s domestic partner, effective January 1, 2018. It also provides that a surviving domestic partner is not a default beneficiary for purposes of a deferred compensation plan and is not eligible to receive duty disability survivorship benefits for deaths occurring on or after January 1, 2018.

    • Modification: The change allows a surviving domestic partner of a member to purchase group health insurance coverage at full price, if the surviving domestic partner was covered by a state group health plan at the time of the member’s death.

      It also modifies the provision relating to duty disability benefits to specify that the effective date of January 1, 2018, apply to the date on which the protective occupation employee experienced a work-related injury or was diagnosed with a work-related disease rather than the date of the death of the employee. In addition, specify that if the surviving spouse of a protective occupation participant was either the spouse or the domestic partner of the participant when the participant became disabled, the surviving spouse may be eligible for a death benefit.

 

  • Self-Insurance Savings – The budget assumes the Group Insurance Board will transition to a self-insured group health model starting January 1, 2018. The projected savings are $20 million GPR in Fiscal Year 2018 and $40 million GPR in Fiscal Year 2019. 

    • Modification: The JCF rejected the self-insurance contracts during their s. 13.10 meeting on June 15. The JCF proposed a number of changes to the group health insurance program during the June 15 executive session, including:
      • Directs GIB to find $63.9 million general purpose revenue savings for the 2017-19 biennium, including:
        • $22.7m GPR savings from negotiations
        • $25.8m GPR draw from the reserves (which translates to $68.8m All Funds)
        • $15.4m GPR from aggressive tiering, and/or additional reserve draw down, and/or plan design changes (subject to the 10% employee cost increase limitation).
      • The group health insurance program would maintain its current program structure.
      • Moves the group health insurance program from a 3-tier to a 5-tier structure.
      • Requires that ETF conduct a consumer-driven health plan educational campaign.
      • Increases legislative input and oversight authority over the Group Health Insurance Program:
        1. Addition of four GIB members appointed by legislative leadership of each party in both houses;
        2. Senate confirmation of GIB appointees;
        3. Provides that GIB submit a plan by March 1, 2018, to JCF for approval under a 21-working day passive review regarding state program reserves;
        4. Provides for an annual April 1 JCF 21-working day passive review of all proposed benefit changes; and
        5. Request that the Legislative Audit Committee direct the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an audit of the state’s group health insurance programs and reserves.

ETF will continue reviewing the budget bill to identify all implications for the Wisconsin Retirement System and ETF-administered benefit programs. After the JCF has finished making recommendations on the Budget Bill, it becomes a substitute amendment to the Governor’s Budget Bill and is then considered by the full Legislature. The Legislature will deliver an amended budget bill to the Governor for review, approval and/or partial veto of the budget to be effective the day after publication. 
Below is a link to the entire budget bill:

Please contact Tarna Hunter, ETF’s Government Relations Director, if you have any questions.

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