The state Budget and Control Board committed “identity theft” when it voted to raise the health insurance rates of state employees, according to the South Carolina State Employees Association..
“No amount of supposition, role playing or (identity) theft can grant the Budget and Control Board, at least under the current law, the authority to raise employee premiums,” Carlton Washington, the association’s executive director wrote in a letter to the Budget and Control Board.
Last week, the board -- at the request of Gov. Nikki Haley -- voted to raise health insurance premiums for state workers after state lawmakers had voted not to raise them. The board did this by assuming the responsibility of the newly created Public Employee Benefits Authority -- an authority that has been established by law but has not been appointed yet. An attorney for the board said it was legal. The state employees association says it was not.
The board’s decision will raise employee health insurance premiums by 4.6 percent, an average increase of about $7.24 per employee per month. However, the decision will save the state $5.8 million on employee health insurance, a fact that has been praised by some conservative taxpayer groups. But lawmakers have criticized the decision as undermining the state legislature.
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In the letter, Washington demands the board meet again and reverse its decision.
“If the Budget and Control Board was acting in the best interest of taxpayers, then the reversal of this action, if it has not already taken place, should commence immediately,” Washington wrote “We are hopeful this board will voluntarily reverse itself and work diligently from this point forward to restore public trust.”
The letter makes no mention of a lawsuit. However, Washington told The State newspaper that a lawsuit “is a real possibility.” The South Carolina Education Association -- which represents teachers -- has vowed to sue the board if it does not reverse its decision.
Below is a copy of the State Employees Association: