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News

Department of Employee Trust Funds

Updated on February 17, 2011

State Budget Bill

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) has received numerous inquiries about the state 2009-2011 Budget Repair Bill (2011 Special Session Senate Bill 11) and the impact of the bill on the public employee benefit programs administered by ETF.

We are currently experiencing high service demands. As a result, the wait times for our services have increased. Your time is valuable; therefore, please review the following answers to frequently asked questions about the bill before contacting ETF.

Question
Who determines the benefit levels of the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) and other fringe benefit programs for public employees?

Answer
ETF does not determine the benefit levels for the WRS and other fringe benefit programs administered by ETF. ETF’s role is to administer the benefits as determined by the Governor and Legislature.

Question
Who determines how much public employees pay for their WRS contributions and health insurance premiums?

Answer
ETF does not play a role in determining who pays the employee portion of the contributions to the WRS. In addition, ETF does not determine how much employees contribute toward health insurance premiums. Under current law, those decisions are determined through the bargaining process for represented employees and compensation plans for non-represented employees.

ETF does not have a role in the laws that govern the collective bargaining process.

Question
Does the bill change the retirement benefits of retired members of the WRS?

Answer
No.

Question
Are employee contributions to the Wisconsin Retirement System considered “pre-tax” or “post-tax” contributions?

Answer
“Post-tax”. Under federal tax law (Section 414(h)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code), employer contributions to public retirement funds are not subject to FICA and federal income taxation (therefore, they are considered pre-tax). Employee contributions, on the other hand, are generally taxed normally (therefore, they are considered post-tax).

Question
Can public employees who work for a WRS employer opt out of the WRS?

Answer
No. Current law prohibits participating employees from opting out of the WRS. Allowing WRS members to opt-out of the WRS would be difficult to administer, would have a detrimental impact on the sustainability of the WRS, would increase contribution rates for employees and employers in the WRS, and employees who opt-out would not be taking advantage of investment returns that end up paying over 66% of the retirement benefit.

Question
What is the status of the Accumulated Sick Leave Conversion Credit Program (ASLCC) and the Supplemental Health Insurance Conversion Credit Program (SHICC)?

Answer
If you are a state employee who has questions about the Accumulated Sick Leave Conversion Credit Program (ASLCC) and the Supplemental Health Insurance Conversion Credit Program (SHICC), please read the information below before contacting ETF.

  • Although ETF administers the ASLCC and SHICC programs, ETF does not play a role in determining the amount of sick leave that employees receive, or whether and how much of it may be accrued. Those matters are defined in state law, the compensation plan for non-represented state employees and the labor agreements for represented state employees.

  • Section 9143 of the budget repair bill states that “upon termination of any collective bargaining agreement between the state and a labor organization representing employees in a collective bargaining unit under section 111.825 (1) or (2) of the statutes, as affected by this act, the director of the office of state employment relations (OSER) may continue to administer those provisions of the collective bargaining agreements that the director determines necessary for the orderly administration of the state civil services system until the compensation plan under section 230.12 of the statutes is established for the 2011-13 fiscal biennium.”
  • OSER issued the following statement on February 16, 2011:
    • The two most frequently asked questions from employees concerned about the impact of the Budget Repair Bill on their benefits relate to continuation of their eligibility for Supplemental Health Insurance Conversion Credits (SHICC) and professional development time (PDT).

    • Assuming that the Budget Repair Bill passes as initially proposed, eligibility for SHICC and PDT will continue for at least the remainder of the 2009-2011 biennium under the OSER Director’s discretion to continue certain provisions of the former collective bargaining agreements. Thereafter, all provisions for represented employees, other than base pay rates which continue to be negotiable, will be governed by the Compensation Plan covering represented employees, applicable statutes, or administrative code.

    • Note: The last day of the 2009-2011 biennium is June 30, 2011.

  • In addition, section 9143 of the bill requires ETF, OSER and the Department of Administration to study the program and submit the findings by June 30, 2012 to the Governor.

For the bill language and the analysis on the bill, visit:

To stay abreast on changes to the bill and supporting documents about the bill, visit the www.thewheelerreport.com.

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