State Can’t Afford New PEIA Subsidy

For a long time, whenever costs went up for programs such as pensions or health insurance for government employees or retirees, state officials had a simple solution: Ask the Legislature for more taxpayers’ money.

That has not been a viable strategy for many years. Now, with unemployment still high and the state’s economy sluggish, it simply isn’t acceptable.

Lawmakers and managers of the government employee benefit programs have worked for years to lessen the need for taxpayer subsidies.

This month the Public Employees Insurance Agency announced it will not increase premiums for health insurance – but may have to raise co-pays, deductibles, etc., to close a $13 million to $15 million gap in the program’s budget for the coming year.

If the PEIA proceeds, the higher costs for covered employees will not go into effect until July 1. Especially in view of major spending cuts that will be necessary to balance the state budget next year, the changes should be made.