1 VOLUME 3 Spring 2015 In this Issue Insurance...page 2 ARTC-PAC...page 2 Scholarship...page 3 Lobby Day...page 3 Affiliate Update...pages4-7 ARTC MATTERS Greetings to All: It has been a long, hard winter, not only weatherwise, but in terms of ARTC. Our organization is working through a transitional phase due to unforseen events. Our Executive Director, Wayne Woodtke, left our employ effective due to major medical issues. Always a warm, welcoming and helpful personality, we are grateful for his service to ARTC and we are missing him. Thank you Wayne. We wish you well and hope that your recovery continues on a positive path. We also said good-bye to ARTC board member,wtrta President and member of the Insurance and Membership Committees, Carol Taylor, who died suddenly in February after a brief illness. Carol was a vibrant thinker,personality and activist in ARTC She leaves a huge void in our leadership ranks and she is greatly missed. Despite these serious setbacks, we in ARTC are a hardy group and we persevere. continued on 7 tax reduction on pension??? Sandra Bove and Cathy D Agostino Legislative Co-Chairs The Legislative Committee is aware of the State s deficit budget and the cuts and hardships it will impose on Connecticut citizens. Over these past years, with the State tax exemption postponed on retired teacher pensions and with the decrease in the State s contribution to our Health Fund, retired teachers have shared the burden of helping to keep budget stability. As of this writing, the bill for the 10 percent tax exemption on pension income, which was approved by the Governor and the Legislature, went into effect on January In addition, the presently proposed budget shows the State will continue to reduce its contribution to the Health Fund with assurances that the Fund is solvent. As the Legislators work to put forth a We need your support! The work of the ARTC is made possible through our members. We represent the interests of Connecticut s retired teachers both here and in Washington. We meet with legislators on both sides of the aisle to ensure that they are aware of those issues that are most important to us. We also offer opportunities for our members to meet and speak with important members of state government. This past fall, Governor Malloy was our guest at an ARTC Luncheon. Our spring luncheon is we need You! balanced budget, all members need to thank their representatives for supporting the tax exemption and remind them that the 10 percent State reduction on the pension is a fairness issue. Because we cannot choose to pay into Social Security during our school employment, we should be given tax breaks comparable to those given to retirees receiving Social Security benefits. Moreover, evidence shows that the 10 percent saved in income tax will flow back into the State s economy through retiree spending. In addition, while we appreciate assurances that our Health Fund is solvent, it is important to remind Legislators that teacher retirees pay for the bulk of their own health insurance and continued reductions in the State s contribution can put our Health Fund continued on page 2 coming up, turn to page 7 for more information. Please come and bring a friend. Not a member? Please join us! Our membership form is online. 111 South Road Farmington, CT (866) Thank you for your continued support and donations.
2 INSURANCE REPORT Rick and Luise Follman Insurance Chairpersons It is always rewarding to present positive news to our membership! On March 11, 2015, Stirling Benefits was awarded a three year contract to administer the TRB (Teachers Retirement Board) Medicare Supplement Program with hearing and vision.because of the excessive amount of work needed to develop a new contract proposal( Stirling Benefits this year), the TRB has extended the Aetna Dental contract for one year. All new members must bundle everything into one package- medical, prescription, dental, vision and hearing. The TRB voted to accept a proposal to place the HIPA account (Health Benefits) into a Trust. The trustee is the Treasurer of the state of CT. This means that NO FUNDS CAN BE REMOVED FROM THE HIPA AC- COUNT WITHOUT A VOTE FROM THE TRB. Of course, this fund would be in much better financial shape if the state paid their one-third contribution consistently. In fact, this year the state is only contributing 15% of what they owe. The state has finally allotted funds to the TRB so they can employ four new positionsin in order to cover the needs of retired teachers. Most of these positions will go into the Accounting department. All retired teachers now enrolled in the Medicare Supplemental Program should be aware that the TRB has approved a three year contract with Express Scripts as the administrator of the Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP) plus wrap. The health insurance consultant is Dr. Joe Fields. He tells us that there will be savings in the long run; however at the present time, our members are showing a considerable amount of transfer of cost. The plan was initiated Jan.1, 2015, and from its inception has caused major concerns and anxiety which we have either resolved or sent to the TRB for resolution. Since this is a federal plan, our teachers have expressed dismay with its inflexibility between the doctor and the patient. Legislative continued from page 1 in jeopardy. Active teachers contribute to this fund and retired teachers rely on the fund to defray their insurance costs. Legislative Committee members have met and will continue to meet with key legislators. With the State budget in crisis, we must remain vigilant that the 10 percent tax exemption remains in place. We must also advocate for the return of the State s promised one-third contribution to the Health Fund. We cannot do it alone. Legislators respond to a barrage of calls and s from their constituents. It is imperative that you do your part. We also urge you to be active in advocating for the repeal of the GPO/ WEP. In February, two US representatives, Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) of the 114 Congress introduced a new bill to repeal GPO/ WEP, (H.R.973--the Social Security Fairness Act of 2015). Please urge your US House representative to co-sponsor this bipartisan bill. We also need a Senate bill. Call or Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal Due to our winter weather, PAC hasnot been able to meet these last two months. We were still able to accomplish a great deal. With the Legislative Committee, we have been trying to help preserve the 10% state tax reduction on your pension for No one s health premium has increased even though the state has reduced its contribution. We are working to change this. We have begun our Take a Legislator to Breakfast program with some success. Fairfield was very successful ARTC PAC We sincerely hope that this program will resolve your personal issues, but if not, we encourage you to the TRB with your concerns. TRB Administrator- Darlene Perez or TRB Chairperson= Clare Barnett- aol.com AGING: EVENTUALLY YOU WILL REACH A POINT WHEN YOU STOP LYING ABOUT YOUR AGE AND START BRAGGING ABOUT IT to introduce a similar bill in the Senate. Again, the more people that contact the senators, the more likely we are to introduce a bill to repeal these unfair laws. Meet with your Connecticut representative locally. An ARTC Fact Sheet is available on the ARTC website which states our concerns and can be used to start a conversation. If you are not physically able to do this, call or your representative. If you need additional help, you may us for information. Do the same with your U.S. Congressmen to advocate for our Federal issue, the repeal of the GPO/ WEP. Log on to ssfairness.com. Become active. If we all do our part, we will see results. as one senator(tony Hwang) and three representatives (Brenda Kupchick, Laura Devlin and Cristin McCarthy-Vahey) met with Marilyn Feranec, Walt Drozeck and Patty McDonnell to discuss retired teacher issues. (These legislators later attended our Meet and Greet at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford). if you would like to participate, you may call me at or me at continued on next page 2
3 LOBBY DAY GLENN MOON SCHOLARSHIP ACTIVE ACTION ESSENTIAL April 29, 2015 Capitol Building, Hartford, 10:00 AM We need a strong showing of retired teachers. No preparation needed! Active action will help to protect what you worked for over the years. Learn about our pension and health issues. Help preserve the 10% State tax reduction on your pension for Visit with your legislator. Meet other retired teachers and enjoy a light lunch. Sponsored by ARTC, CEA-R, and AFT-R The Glenn Moon Scholarship Committee is in the midst of reviewing applications from students who are looking for our financial aid to help fund their education to fulfill their dreams of becoming teachers. Winners will be announced at the May 19 luncheon. The Glenn Moon Scholarship program was established in 1981 to help Connecticut high school seniors planning a career in education and has helped over 100 students. Because of the scholarship s diminishing income, in the past few years the committee has had to reduce both the amount and the number of scholarships we have given in past years. The hope is to be able to continue the program and possibly increase the number of scholarships per year. ARTC PAC Continued The Meet and Greet held in January was organized by Neil Foster. Our purpose was to educate the new legislators about our pension and health benefit concerns. Many representatives were surprised to learn we are not part of the state system! Members of the ARTC Executive Board and the Legislative and PAC committees enjoyed the coffee and pastries. The legislators took away an ARTC apple and much information to digest. Good job, NeiL Michael D. Norman, PAC Chair The committee would be grateful for any donations which could be given in your name or the name of a deceased colleague. Remembering us in your will would also truly benefit future teachers. Donations can be sent by mail to the Glenn Moon Scholarship Treasurer. Checks should be made payable to Glenn Moon Scholarship Fund and mailed to... Robert Sulick 15 Monticello Drive Wethersfield CT Please consider contributing EXERCISE BLOCK 1. PLACE BLOCK ON THE FLOOR 2. WALK AROUND IT TWICE 3. SIT DOWN! RELAX! YOU HAVE JUST WALKED AROUND THE BLOCK TWICE! Remember These dates: Lobby Day is April 29 at the Capitol in Hartford The Spring Luncheon is May 19th at the AquaTurf Don t miss these important events 3
4 A F F I L I A T E U P D A T E S GREATER BRIDGEPORT It s been a long, cold winter! But finally, a fresh, new season has arrived along with a wide variety of activities planned for GBRTA members. There are trips to exciting places and opportunities to renew friendships at our lunches and picnic. Lunch meetings are scheduled for April 9th and May 14th at Testo s Restaurant in Bridgeport. The May 14th meeting will begin with a brief Memorial Service for members who have died in the past year. We ll also see the election of a new president, first vice-president and recording secretary. Our year will end with a relaxing day at our June 11th picnic at Boothe Memorial Park in Stratford. A rich variety of trips is planned for the next few months- the Newport Playhouse and Cabaret, the Warner Theatre in Torrington, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and a week- long trip to Prince Edward Island. For dates, prices and details, please see the GBRTA website The GBRTA will again provide each of the 15 public high schools in its area with scholarships in the amount of $1,000 to graduating seniors intending to pursue a career in education. Guidance counselors at each high school have received information regarding the scholarships and interested students should apply through their school. Keep checking our website for the latest details. In the meantime, celebrate the new season with us. We look forward to seeing and working with you. Barbara Kmetz, President Bristol The Bristol Area Retired Teachers (BART) met on March 19 at the newly built and opened Bristol Boys & Girls Club/Family Center. This is the brand new home of one of Bristol s premier and active civic activities. Not only does the Club offer outstanding programs for the youth of the city, but many of the graduates from the programs continue to be involved in the affairs of the Club into adulthood. The Older Members (OMs) of the Club sponsor a yearly variety show that for many years has been a highlight in the Bristol calendar of events. On March 19 BART members enjoyed a tour of the facility, followed by lunch, a meeting and social hour. The ARTC is PROactive as opposed to REactive ~Patty McDonnell With the visit to the Club, BART members were invited to become mentors to the youth in the Club s programs. This would be another outreach in the community of BART members under the sponsorship of our Social Service Committee. For several years BART members have contributed support to the Young Mothers & Infants ministry at the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church. This we do in memory of Pat Duffy, who passed on in Pat was Chair of our Social Service Committee, and promoted support of this ministry and of the Food for the Poor ministry at Zion. BART will close the year with the Annual Meeting & Scholarship Presentations on May 6 at the Chippanee Country. Scholarships will be awarded to two graduates, one each from Bristol Central High School and Bristol Eastern High School, who plan to start a career in education in college. Bob Lewandoski, President FAIRFIELD This past fall Retired Educators of Fairfield (REF) members enjoyed viewing Holiday Inn at the Goodspeed Opera House. It really put us in the holiday spirit. Not long after that our Holiday Social was held at Cinzano s in Fairfield. Both active and retired teachers socialized while listening to music performed by one of our members, Milt Jacoby. The long, cold, snowy winter did not prevent several members from attending the monthly breakfasts at the Circle Diner. Three executive board members also met with our Fairfield County representatives and Sen. Tony Wang to discuss retired teacher concerns (pictured below). Now that spring is officially here, one of our top priorities will be to encourage our members to attend Lobby Day. Other activities planned for the spring include a trip to Boston for a Boston Pops concert and a trip to Goodspeed Opera House for the musical, Guys and Dolls. Our year will continue with our Annual Meeting, as a breakfast at Tashua Knolls Golf Club in Trumbull. Marilyn Feranec & Lois Neville, Co-Presidents HARTFORD COUNTY HCRTA will be holding elections at their luncheon meeting on April 15, The slate of officers is as follows: 4
5 Bob DeBishop, President; Barbara Brennan, vice president; Donna Liebman, Secretary; Financial secretary, Bob Sulick;. Brad Hayward, Treasurer. Our guest speakers will be Sandra Bove and Cathy D Agostino, Co-Chairs for ARTC s Legislative Committee. They will bring us up to date on the latest legislative issues that we should be concerned with In addition we will have as our guests our $1500 scholarship award winner and his/her family. Barbara Brennan, President Manchester Well hopefully you survived this awful winter of snow and Artic cold and that we ll all see green fairways at the Country Club luncheon on April 14th. Don t forget to send in your reservation as soon as you receive this newsletter to Judy Rolfs or Michele Vendenais. RTAM is keeping a close eye on the governor s budget proposal. Our concern, as always, concentrates on our health and pension benefits. There is no guarantee that either will be left alone if severe cuts are proposed in the budget process. Please reserve the date April 29th- to go visit the Hartford legislature and participate in Lobby Day. Express Scripts is in full mode. Has anyone experienced any difficulty in this change over? If so, please let me know. At the ARTC meetings, it was stated that some towns have had some problems, while other towns have not. Any change takes time to work the kinks out. At our April meeting, the Executive Board and Committee Chairpersons will be up for renewal and this slate will be voted for approval. The only vacancy thus far is Historian as Ginny Rogalla is stepping down. Please consider filling this position. The responsibilities for this position are to keep a scrapbook of published articles and pictures of members and activities of RTAM On April 23rd, I will be meeting with this year s retirees at Central for their informational retirement meeting. There are nine retirees so far for this year. We will honor them at our May luncheon. Hopefully they will attend and join RTAM and ARTC. Tom Alexander, RTAM - President MiddleSex The Middlesex County Retired Teachers Association (MCRTA) welcomed a new school year with new officers: Elizebeth Tischio, President; Dale Arseneault and Jeannette Billeb, Co-Vice Presidents; Sandra Sievers, Secretary; and Nancy Rogalsky, Treasurer. Members enjoyed a not-back-toschool brunch and discussed plans for the upcoming year. The annual fall luncheon was held at the Gelston House in East Haddam. Dan McMahon, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Goodspeed Musicals, entertained the members with stories about the past, present, and future at Goodspeed. The annual holiday party was held in December at Baci Grill in Cromwell, where our immediate past president, Margo Chase-Wells, led the group in party games and retired teacher Christmas carols. Plans are being made for the annual spring luncheon. Elizebeth Tischio, President NAUGATUCK At the December luncheon for Naugatuck Retired Teachers, the group voted to remain an ARTC affiliate after much discussion. That was a big accomplishment! Also, the Ecumenical Food Bank greatly appreciated the very large food donation that was given to them. For our March luncheon we ll be organizing our scholarship committee and deciding on a deserving student who plans to enter the teaching profession. We will also be choosing another organization to benefit from a donation such as the Naugatuck Public Library which serves many in our community. Next, our co-treasurers have organized a lobster cruise in Gloucester, MA towards the end of June. The specifics of the trip look to bring us an exciting and enjoyable adventure. Debbie DeRienz, President NEW HAVEN COUNTY Carol Noble, President, plans on having a Spring meeting on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at the Grassy Hill Club in Orange, CT. There will be a short business meeting followed by light entertainment. Carol Noble, President New London The next meeting of the New London County Retired Teachers Association will be held at the Port and Starboard in New London on April 21, The speaker will be Robert Steele who has written a book about the Foxwood s Casino. We will be collecting items for the Humane Society. Our December meeting featured the chorus from Griswold High School under the direction of Ray Church. They did an outstanding job with holiday music. We collected items for the local food banks. Jane Aarnio, President ARTC 2014 Executive Committee poses for official photo at LOB in Hartford, CT. From left to right- Michael Norman, Immediate Past-President; Wayne P. Woodtke, Executive Director; Sandra Bove, Legislative Co-Chair; Tom Singleton, President; Ed Messina, President-Elect; Cathy D Agostino, Legislative Co-Chair; Rick Follman, Insurance Chair; Sandra Fitzgerald, Secretary; Patty McDonnell, Public Relations; Pat Yacovacci, Financial Secretary. Missing from picture are Mary Gracyalny, Financial Officer; Bonnie Reimann and Roz Schoonmaker, Membership Chairs. 5
6 Northern Fairfield County Northern Fairfield County Retired Teachers Association expresses our gratitude to John Luning who stepped up to serve as President for the past two years. He acted as our leader until we were able to fill our Vice Presidency spot. He has met with our Executive Board to fill us in on all the recent happenings at ARTC. We thank John for caring enough to assist us during a difficult time. He feels our new president will be an asset. We shall introduce Rona Rothhouse, our new president, to the Board of Directors at the April 21, 2015 meeting. Rona has a dynamic personality with much energy who will serve NFCRTA as well as ARTC in great fashion. We welcome her aboard. Plans for our spring luncheon are well under way. We shall meet at Anthony s Lake Club in Danbury on June 1, 2015 to conduct our annual luncheon meeting. As membership chairman, I am able to report that our local membership is up and luncheons are well attended. Our treasurer, Libby Kasimer, runs a great 50/50 raffle that helps support our charitable work. We continue to honor two area students yearly with scholarships to pursue studies in the teaching field, thanks to Kay Santuro who takes on this initiative. Her efforts are to be commended. June Jones, Membership Chair Southern FAIRFIELD County Bob Duff, Ct State Senate majority leader, was the speaker at SFCRTA s Holiday Luncheon on December 9, Bob is serving his sixth two-year term representing the people of the 25th Senatorial District, which includes Norwalk and Darien. Regarding teacher retirement issues, Senator Duff has been in our corner in continuing the retirement system as it is. He has urged the governor to lower the state income tax on our pensions and in 2015 the rate will be reduced by 10%. (CT is only one of five states that fully taxes teachers pensions.) Benjamin Rhodes III of the Social Security Administration will speak at our general membership meeting on Tuesday, April a.m., Parish Hall St. Mary s Church, West Avenue, Norwalk, CT. Rep. Gail Lavielle (143 district Wilton, Norwalk, Westport) will speak at our June luncheon. Frank Cooper, President WATERBURY On March 26, 2015, the WRTA held its spring meeting at the Grand Oak Villa Restaurant in Watertown, CT. After the business meeting, the group was entertained by the chorus from the Waterbury Arts Magnet School. This is the third annual appearance by this very professional high school chorus. On May 13, 2015, our annual scholarship luncheon will be held at the Villa Rosa Restaurant in Waterbury. Four $1500 scholarships will be presented to graduating seniors from four local high schools who will be entering the field of education. In June, at a date to be announced, the 19th annual Memorial Service will be held to honor those Waterbury teachers who passed away during the previous year. Retired teachers participate in the service and perform with the choir. Local and school officials, as well as family members, retired and active teachers all attend this meaningful event. A luncheon at a local restaurant will follow. Michael Ieronimo, President WEST HARTFORD Spring activities for the West Hartford Retired Educators Association include a luncheon on May 12th at the Wampanoag Country Club in West Hartford. The featured speaker will be Dr. Tom Moore, the new superintendent of schools. Retirees will have the opportunity to question him about changes to the school system in the past five years and his predictions of changes coming in the future. Our newsletter, The Emeritus, will be sent to all members in April. It will include a survey developed by a Conard Social Studies teacher that asks a series of ten questions to be answered by our members. The results will be tabulated and shared with the WHREA. We have also added a travel section for our members. We have asked all members to share an hour of their time to attend the ARTC, CEA-R and AFT-R Lobby Day on April 29th. If they cannot attend, we have asked them to send a letter to their representatives to outline our major issues: full funding of our pension, full funding of our insurance, and reducing the taxes on our pension. Susan S. Daly, WHREA President WINDHAM-TOLLAND COUNTY WTRTA members were shocked and saddened to learn of the untimely death of Carol Taylor, president of WTRTA. Carol became ill around Thanksgiving and died on February third. She was completing her second term as president, serving on the ARTC Board of Directors and the Insurance and Membership Committees. Bright,vibrant and a highly skilled leader and advocate for retired teachers, she leaves a great void in our organizations and will be remembered for her devoted service to ARTC and WTRTA. We are currently operating through the Executive Committee and elections will be held at our Spring Luncheon on May 12, 2015 at Grill 37 in Pomfret. The featured speaker will be Don Williams, retired Senate President Pro Tem and author of a recent book on Prudence Crandell. We will be honoring the senator for his long time support for retired teachers while serving in the legislature. WTRTA is also gearing up for Lobby Day on April 29th with plans to send a contingent to the state capitol. A summer trip is planned to Goodspeed Opera House. Tom Singleton, President ARTC 6
7 President s report continued Mary Gracyalny is our part-time interim executive director. She has been our financial officer for many years and is very familiar with ARTC operations and its history. We are fortunate that Mary was available to take over day to day functions and she is assisted by Susie Smith who has worked part-time in our office over the years. All in all, a smooth transition under difficult circumstances. You will find Mary and Susie to be knowledgeable and helpful when you contact our office. Many thanks to both of you. Don t Miss Out! Our Spring Luncheon is May 19th. Spring is in the air and it s time again for our annual luncheon at the AquaTurf Club. We ve got a few surprises in store this year, so keep checking our website for hints about the exciting events we have planned. Get together with old friends and meet new ones. Talk to our vendors and important people in state government. If you haven t come before, this is the year to come! The registration form is below. Please cut out or download at artct.org. We look forward to the sunshine and warmth of spring and to a successful legislative advocacy campaign. We hope to see many of you at our Lobby Day -April 29th.. Tom Singleton, President ARTC Directions I-84 East- Take exit 27 to Rt. 691 E. Get off at exit 3 and turn left onto Rt. 10. Continue on 10 until the junction of I-84 and Mulberry St. Turn right onto Mulberry and follow 1.5 miles to AquaTurf I-91 South or 1-84 East- Take exit 29 (left exit). At end of ramp continue straight on Mulberry St. AquaTurf is located 1.5 miles on the right. I-91 North- Take Rt. 691 W. towards Waterbury. Take exit 4, CT-322, toward Southington, turning onto the Merriden-Waterbury Turnpike. At foot of hill turn right onto South End Rd. Follow South End Rd. Turn left onto Mulberry St. AquaTurf is on the left. Spring Luncheon 2015 Please circle your meal choice (all meals include pasta due to popular request) NY Strip Sirloin (with beef demi glaze w/madeira wine) Baked Scrod (with cracker crumb topping) Chicken a la Kathryn (baked breaded chicken breast served with a wine sauce) Name Address Phone All meals $35 Please make your check payable to ARTC Program Fund One registration form per person additional forms available at artct.org Mail to: ARTC Program Fund, 68 Loomis St, Manchester, CT No later than May 10 77
8 Since 1946, ARTC has been a retiree organization exclusively representing CT Retired Teachers. 111 South Road Farmington, CT (866) Pre-Sorted First Class U.S. Postage PAID Hartford, CT Permit #3344 ARTC MEMBER BENEFITS Your membership with ARTC gives you access to many valuable benefits! ARTC endorses the following member benefits: Long Term Care / Home Health Care Insurance Tax-Deferred Annuity Medical Air Services Association (MASA) American Hearing Benefits Government Employee Travel Opportunities(GETO) LaQuinta Inn & Suites Discount Hertz, Avis, & Budget Car Rental Discounts AMBA TravelPERX Identity Theft Protection Dell Computer Discounts Apple Discount Flowers Discount Interested in traveling with other Retired Teachers? Find out what trips/tours are available at: French s Worldwide Travel 50 Market Square Newington, CT (Please reference ARTC ) To learn more about any of the endorsed benefits, please call AMBA at with