For a second consecutive year, Colorado WINS members secured a raise for state employees. This year’s 2.5% across-the-board increase is an improvement over last year’s 2% and with Merit Pay some state workers will see up to a 4.5% increase starting with their July paycheck.
The budget passed with bipartisan support in both houses of the legislature and was signed into law by the Governor on April 30. This is what happens when workers come together and rally for improved pay and benefits. Colorado WINS members are part of the only organization working to improve pay and benefits for all classified personnel.
Members have been hard at work making this raise happen. WINS members lobbied for a 3% increase, but at the last minute, the Joint Budget Committee lowered the raise to 2.5%. While this is still clearly a victory, it shows that our membership numbers greatly influence legislative outcomes. In the 11th hour, we drove hundreds of calls and emails to the JBC, urging them to reverse their decision. Envision what the raise would have been if those numbers were in the thousands!
This year’s legislative session was indeed good for state workers. Thanks to the raise, workers living in rural Colorado will boost their local economies. And since healthcare premiums held steady for another year this means that everyone will be taking home a net increase.
In addition, the state budget allotted extra funds for improvements in specific departments.
The Dept. of Revenue will receive extra funding to modernize its driver’s license offices by upgrading technology and hiring more workers. The goal is to reduce wait times for renewing licenses to no more than 15 minutes.
The Dept. of Corrections will receive funds to, among other things, streamline its timekeeping system to ensure workers are being pair fairly, depending on the June Revenue forecast. Funds will also go to the Division of Parole, to reduce caseloads for Parole Officers and improve some of the transition programs for offenders.
Other bills this session
- SB 214 – PERA Studies Conducted By Actuarial Firm
This bill requires the state Personnel Director to submit an addendum with the total compensation study that includes retirement benefits. It also requires a comprehensive study comparing PERA’s current defined benefit plan to alternative plans in public and private sectors, and to determine when PERA will meet its sustainability targets.
- HB 1338 – Regional Centers Task Force And Utilization Study
The bill creates a task force, comprised of legislators, state agency representatives and community members, to make recommendations to the state about the need for beds for persons with intellectual disabilities. It also requires a utilization study about the current use of Regional Centers’ facilities.
- SB 197 – Transportation Enterprise Transparency Act (US 36 bill)
The bill allows for more public input and legislative oversight on Public Private Partnerships (P3s). The bill also mandates that deals should be no longer than 35 years, prevents a requirement to compensate private firms for loss of toll revenues due to emergencies, and allows a state auditor to audit the enterprise.
- HB 1383 – Workers’ Compensation Physician Choice
The bill expands the number of physicians (from two to four) that must be offered as option for treating injured workers.
- HB 1087 – Prohibit Collective Bargaining Public Employees
The bill attempted to strip collective bargaining rights from all public sector workers in Colorado by rescinding the 2007 Executive Order which granted employee partnerships. Thanks to our efforts, the bill was killed in committee in less than 10 minutes.
- HB 1098/SB 113 – Prohibit Discrimination Labor Union Participation
Also dubbed “right-to-work bills,” they prohibited unions from collecting fees from non-members to cover the cost of the representation and bargaining. They did not make it out of committee.
- HB 1377 – Colorado Retirement Security Task Force
The bill would have created a task force to make recommendations for increasing the number of Coloradans who work in the private sector to invest in their retirement. The task force would also have analyzed how much money Colorado would save on public assistance if more Coloradans had adequate retirement benefits.
- SB 68 – Retirement Age For PERA Members
The bill would have changed the retirement eligibility for state employees hired after Dec. 16, 2016. Members, with the exception of State Troopers, would be required to have 30 years of service and be age 65 to receive a full service retirement benefit (current retirement age is 58 and 60, depending on your sector).