HB 1700, HD1, Relating to The State Budget

To The Committee on Ways and Means

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

9:00 a.m.,  Room 211

RE: HB1700, HD1, Relating to The State Budget

Attention: Chair Jill Tokuda, Vice Chair Donovan Dela Cruz and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the Committee to amend HB1700, HD1, in the following sections:

Page  Line   Program No.

34      40       UOH100 University of Hawai‘i at Manoa            +$44.25 m (A Funds)

35      01        UOH100 University of Hawai‘i at Manoa            -$44.8 m   (N Funds)

35      10        UOH110 UOH, John A Burns Sch of Medicine   +$ 5.2 m  (A Funds)   

35      12        UOH110 UOH, John A Burns Sch of Medicine   -$ 5.2 m    (N Funds)

36      07       UOH900 UOH, Statewide Support                       -$50 m  (A Funds)

These sections of  HB1700, HD1, were amended by removing “A” funds and replacing them with “N” funds in UOH100 and UOH110.  The “A” funds were then inserted into UOH900.  We are urging the Senate Ways and Means Committee to reverse the HD1 version to the original amounts stated in HB1700.

Removing $50 million from “A” funds (general funds) and replacing that funding with “N” funds (federal funds) is the equivalent of providing a negative $50 million respectively to UH Manoa and the John A Burns School of Medicine.  These “A” funds are fundamental to support research and to give funding agencies the assurances that the University can meet its commitments that are required. Federal grants require a quid pro quo–the failure to provide that resource, which often are faculty positions, means there will be severe limitations on the institution’s ability to conduct research and the instructional opportunities that flow from that research.

Federal funds are tied to grants.  “N” funds only appear as a function of grants being awarded. The cycle for grants from writing, submitting, acceptance and finally funding can take 12 – 18 months.  Grants may provide funding for the principal researcher but rarely more than 2-3 months for employment related activities. This means it is the legislature that needs to commit the state revenues that nurture the research faculty within the University.   To do otherwise will effectively shut down a large sector of programs within UH Manoa.

Should HB1700, HD1 pass as currently submitted with a loss of $50 million in “A” funds there are recognizable consequences: These include

  • Elimination of Faculty Members, Academic Professional/Technical personnel; Teaching and Research Assistants,
  • Student enrollment declines as opportunities for undergraduates and graduate students to engage in research diminish;
  • Instruction that incorporates lab and technical experiences becomes unsustainable due to loss of funds that provide equipment;
  • A rapid exodus of faculty members as other institutions recruit and accept the grants held by the faculty member;
  • Revenue loss of over a billion dollars annually
    • Research, primarily Organized Research Unit revenue – $300 million with a Multiplier effect between 4 and 10

Perhaps most troubling with this budget proposal is the attempt to undermine the University as an independent corporation and to diminish its mission in advancing creative endeavors through research. Using the budget as a device to have a conversation hides the real  impact which is to compel certain behavior or be punished. The magnitude of this challenge raises constitutional considerations that cannot be ignored. If the legislature is seeking to change the mission and nature of the University it should be forthright in making that argument.

History can be instructive. The vision of Governor Burns and the legislature of his day recognized that Hawai‘i had special needs that required a local research focus.  Subsequent Governors and legislatures have also recognized that the competition for researchers was a world-wide one and it would be difficult to attract excellent researchers to financially unstable positions in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  Their vision resulted in the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa becoming a Carnegie 1 research institution recognized nationally and internationally.

HB1700, HD1, represents a  profound change in this vision with an acceptance that the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa must downgrade from a Carnegie 1 research institution to a teaching college.  The resources that discover ways to meet various challenges such as  climate change, coastal erosion, chronic and epidemic diseases, and invasive species are eliminated meaning some other institution or agency will provide for Hawai‘i that once was provided here.

UHPA urges the committee to amend HB1700, HD1 as requested.

Respectfully Submitted

Kristeen Hanselman                                                                                                                                     Executive Director

 

UHPA Annual Membership Meeting on April 29, 2016

Please be informed that the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) will be holding its 42nd Annual Membership Meeting at:

Honolulu Community College
Building 2, Room 214
874 Dillingham Blvd
Honolulu, HI  96817

on

Friday, April 29, 2016

from 3:30 – 4:00 p.m.

See campus map

HCR 170/HR 120 Urging EUTF to Divest from Fossil Fuel Investments

The House Committee on Labor & Public Employment

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

10:30 a.m., Room 309

RE: HCR 170/HR 120 Urging The Employees’ Retirement System and Employer–Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) to Divest from Fossil Fuel Investments

Attention:    Chair Mark Nakashima, Vice Chair Jarrett Keohokalole and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) supports the intent of these resolutions, which are urging the Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) and EUTF to divest the majority interest of their respective fossil fuel investments by 2021.  

Both the ERS and EUTF have governing Boards of Trustees that have the jurisdiction in this matter.  Passage of these measures will identify divestment of fossil fuel investments as a fiscal concern that needs to be considered.

We thank you for the opportunity to support the intent of these measures.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman                                                                                                                                               Executive Director

HCR 38/HR 10 Requesting the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) to Review its Health Care Coverage for Retirees and Their Family Members

The House Committee on Labor & Public Employment

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

10:30 a.m., Room 309

RE: HCR 38/HR 10 Requesting the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) to Review its Health Care Coverage for Retirees and Their Family Members

Attention:    Chair Mark Nakashima, Vice Chair Jarrett Keohokalole and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the committee to pass HCR 38/HR 10 to encourage the EUTF to review its health care coverage for retirees and their family members, and specifically to review the issue of the extension of dependent coverage to the age of 26 for the EUTF Retirees, which would align the EUTF Retiree Plan with the EUTF Active Plans.

The EUTF Board has the jurisdiction to take action on extending this benefit to the Retiree beneficiaries.  At the EUTF Board Meeting on March 17, 2011 the Employee Trustees all voted unanimously in favor (with one Trustee abstaining due to a conflict), while the Employer Trustees voted unanimously in opposition to extending this benefit to the Retiree beneficiaries.  Due the rules governing the EUTF and the requirement to have a majority of both the Employee and Employer Trustees, the measure failed to pass.  It is a subject that has continued to come up at EUTF Board Meetings due to the negative impact it has on the Retiree beneficiaries.

We respectfully urge your support of these measures.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman                                                                                                                                        Executive Director

HB 2015, HD1 Relating to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund

The Senate Committee on Judiciary & Labor

and

The Senate Committee on Government Operations

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

1: 17 p.m.,  Room 414  

RE: HB 2015, HD1, Relating to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund

Attention: Chairs Gilbert Keith-Agaran and Donna Mercado Kim, Vice Chairs Maile Shimabukuro and Les Ihara, Jr. and Members of the Committees

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the committee to support HB 2015, HD1, that makes fundamental changes to the structure of the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF).  We can all agree that the EUTF is not functioning as it was originally intended, which concerns both employees and employers.

Benefits are an integral component of employee compensation, and this measure would assist in making improvements to the EUTF by allowing:

  1. Exemptions to Chapter 103-D Hawaii Revised Statutes Procurement Code providing flexibility in selecting benefit plan carriers, consultants and actuaries
  2. Changes to the composition of the EUTF Board to better represent the beneficiaries
  3. The Board to retain legal counsel other than the AG’s office
  4. Individual unions and employers to develop a sub-trust and sub-board of trustees to administer that bargaining unit’s contribution benefits if they negotiate a specific contribution to apply only to that unit
  5. Health plans provided based on collectively bargained contributions from both the employer and employees

Testimony provided in opposition to this measure in prior committee hearings argue that this bill would diminish the benefits derived from economies of scale arising from larger group packages and group rates.  This assertion is inaccurate.  The larger the group, the larger the risk pool, which translates to more credible rates for that risk pool.  However, a more credible risk pool does not necessarily equate to more favorable rates.  Rates are calculated by the utilization of a risk pool, the benefit offerings, and health care trend (expected future health care costs).  A smaller population with more control over its benefits can better control costs and have lower rates.  

UHPA urges the committee to support HB 2015, HD1.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman                                                                                                                                    Executive Director

SB 2398, SD2, HD1 Relating to Collective Bargaining

The House Committee on Higher Education

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

2:00 p.m.,  Room 309

RE: SB 2398, SD2, HD1, Relating to Collective Bargaining

Attention:    Chair Isaac Choy, Vice Chair Linda Ichiyama and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the committee support passage of SB 2398, that amends Section 89-6 of the Hawai‘i Revised Statute to advance the interests of graduate assistants.  We urge the committee to reject the SB 2398, SD2, HD1 amendments.

These employees are essential to instruction and research that contributes to the overall success of the University of Hawai‘i.  Graduate Assistants are employees in the full sense of the term with continuing access to positions based on job and academic performance.

UHPA supports the rights of graduate assistants to organize and collectively bargain.  Such a right is consistent with the labor tradition in our state and is compatible with an academic environment whereby the majority of employees have access to representation.

UHPA supports the passage of the SB 2398 language.

Respectively submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman                                                                                                                                                                Executive Director

HB 1556, HD1, Relating to The University of Hawai‘i

The Committee on Higher Education and the Arts

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

1:30 p.m.,  Room 224

RE: Relating to The University of Hawai‘i

Attention: Chair Brian Taniguchi, Vice Chair Lorraine Inouye and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the committee to support the passage of HB1556, HD1 that provides faculty the opportunity to serve their communities not only as an educator but as a public servant.

The UHPA has advocated for faculty members to be allowed to participate as all other citizens without being subjected to a loss of employment for holding public office.  Over the years UHPA has testified on this issue and has proposed contract language that would extend the right to hold public office to UH employees.  UHPA has not been successful in these efforts and we believe that this has been detrimental to our faculty and their voices.

The current UHPA contract permits faculty to:

request leave of absence without pay or use vacation leave while campaigning for elective political office.  Faculty Members may continue working while campaigning for elective political office as long as the campaigning does not interfere with the duties and responsibilities of the Faculty Member, as determined by the Chancellor or Vice-President, and the Faculty Member complies with Board of Regents’ Policy, Section 9-5 [RP 9.205] (see R-04 of Reference Section), Political Activity (and subsequent amendments) and other applicable rules of the University.

The University of Hawai‘i faculty are members of communities throughout the State of Hawai‘i and must be provided equal opportunity, just like other citizens of Hawai‘i to hold public office.

UHPA urges passage of HB1556, HD1.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman                                                                                                                                                                Executive Director

HB 2006, HD1 Relating to the Employees’ Retirement System

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

9:00 a.m.,  Room 016

 

RE: HB 2006, HD1, Relating to the Employees’ Retirement System

Attention: Chair Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Vice Chair Maile Shimabukuro and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) strongly opposes HB 2006, HD1, which seeks to reduce the benefit multiplier for judges who become judges, are reappointed, or promoted after June 30, 2016.

We view this measure as an attempt to not only reclassify judges’ future retirement benefits, but also adversely impacting their current retirement benefits.  We strongly oppose attempts that negatively impact the retirement benefits of any employee mid-employment. 

Changes to retirement benefits are generally made prospectively, for any new employees beginning their service at a future date.  Passage of this legislation would be setting a precedent by diminishing retirement benefits for current employees.

UHPA appreciates the opportunity to provide testimony in opposition to HB 2006, HD1, and urges the committee to defer this measure.  

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman                                                                                                                                                             Executive Director

HB 2012, HD1 Relating to Collective Bargaining

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor

Thursday, March 17, 2016

9:30 a.m.,  Room 016

RE: HB 2012, HD1, Relating to Collective Bargaining

Attention: Chair Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Vice Chair Maile Shimabukuro and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) supports the purpose and intent of HB 2012, HD1, which will allow the unions the ability to negotiate not only the contributions to the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF), but also the benefits provided through the health plans.  

We do respectfully request that HB 2012, HD1 revert back to its original form, allowing an arbitration panel to fully weigh employee’s’ salary and benefit package for dispute resolution purposes.

This Bill, in its original form, reinforces the union’s belief that benefits are an integral part of employee compensation and should be negotiated between unions and employers.  Negotiating both premiums and benefits provides unions the ability to identify benefit features that meet the needs of their members without the loss of key coverage.  The ability to negotiate will provide greater incentives which can assist in controlling health care costs over the long-term.

UHPA appreciates the opportunity to provide comments and urges the committee to support passing this measure in its original form.  

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman                                                                                                                                                          Executive Director