Agenda — September 4, 2002

9:30 a.m.—Meeting, Wilson Library Assembly Room

I.          Call to Order

II.         Welcome Guests, Members of the Press

III.            Opening Remarks—Chancellor James Moeser

VI.       Special Presentations

· Dean Gene Nichol of UNC Law School on State Redistricting

· State Senators Ellie Kinnaird and Howard Lee

V.        Employee Presentations or Questions

VI.       Human Resources Update

· Laurie Charest, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources

VII.      Stretch Time   6

VIII.     Approval of Minutes of the August 7, 2002 meeting P

IX.        New Business

· Resolution 02-08, Supporting the University’s Summer Reading Program, In Light of Recent Events and Controversy (1st Reading)

X.         Forum Committee Reports

· Career Development:  Fred Jordan

· Communications:  Linda Collins

Þ    Forum Newsletter

· Employee Presentations:  Gary Lloyd

· Nominating: Kay Teague

Þ    Forum Elections

· Orientation:  Joan Ferguson/Barbara Logue

· Personnel Issues:  Mary Ann Vacheron

· Recognition and Awards:  Shirley Hart/Sylvia White

· University Committee Assignments:  Lee Edmark

XI.        Chair’s Report (Executive Committee):  Tommy Griffin

XII.       Task Force/University Committee Reports

· Transportation & Parking Advisory— Tommy Griffin

· Personnel Flexibility Study Committee—John Heuer

XIII.      Announcements/Questions

XV.      Adjournment

P = Included in Agenda Packet

MINUTES

Minutes

September 4, 2002

Wilson Library Assembly Room

 

Delagates Present

Tom Arnel

Jim Bennett

GeorgeAnn Bissett

Keita Cannon

Roy Caudle

Katherine Caudell-Graves

Andy Chrismon

Meredith Clason

Gary Cocker

David Collins

Linda Collins

Karen Copeland

Ray Doyle

Tommy Griffin

Wanda Gunter

Keith Fogleman

Shirley Hart

Glenn Haugh

Fred Jordan

Gary Lloyd

Andrew Maglione

Connie McPherson

Lynn McPherson

Debra Neiditz

Diane O’Connor

Carol Payne

Clarence Peoples

Gail Plaisance

Rob Sadler

Pamela Siler

Bonita Summers

Matt Todd

Mary Ann Vacheron

Laurie Charest

John Heuer

= Ex-Officio

Delagates Absent

Nanette Coulon

Lee Edmark

Joan Ferguson

Chris Koltz

Norma Roberts

Sylvia White

Ruth Williams

Excused Absences

Barbara Logue

Diane Strong

Kay Teague

Alternates Present

Shanna Fleenor

Mary Johnson

Lauren Mangili

Jack Whaley

Brian White

Dana Xiao

Guests

Eric Ferreri

Joanne Kucharski

Corrie Mimms

Scott Ragland

Nora Robbins

 

            Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:34 a.m.  He welcomed Eric Ferreri of the Chapel Hill Herald, Scott Ragland of the University Gazette, and a reporter from the Daily Tar Heel.  He also recognized former Forum chairs Joanne Kucharski and John Heuer.  In addition, he welcomed Student Body President Jen Daum, among others.  Finally, he welcomed Chancellor James Moeser to make opening remarks.

Moeser noted that Senators Howard Lee and Ellie Kinnaird were to appear later on during the Forum’s program.  He also noted that he would give his State of the University address that afternoon at 3 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Student Union.  During that speech he would talk about his vision for the future of this great University.  He also thanked staff for their work in bringing 25,000 students to campus in a smooth transition.

Moeser recalled earlier in the week 10,000 students had participated in an alcohol-free street party until 2 a.m.  Furthermore staff had stayed up all night to remove all debris from the scene by the next morning.  He praised the incredible dedication of staff throughout campus, much of which goes unseen but not unappreciated.  He called the opening of the year a stunning success.

Moeser recalled controversy about the University’s summer reading and discussion program.  He joked that the University had not held a mass conversion to Islam since it did not want to oppose UNC’s native religion, college basketball.

Moeser noted the serious drought which faced the local community.  He recalled that General Davie had founded UNC-Chapel Hill on the top of a hill at a crossroads next to plentiful water.  The University shares a water table with Orange County and must scrupulously conserve water to offset current difficulties.

Concerning the State budget, Moeser said that the Senate had looked very favorably upon the University.  Now, the budget will go to a conference committee.  University officials will continue to meet with legislators in an attempt to prevent measures harmful to the University.  The University has asked for the maximum amount of budgetary flexibility to deal with anticipated cuts.  Moeser added that events might move very quickly now, and he said that critical construction projects should move forward.  He was amazed that after the demonstration of faith that the people of North Carolina have showed in the University System with the passage of the bond package, some legislators still attempt to undercut the budget for higher education.

On September 11, the University will hold a ceremony of commemoration and remembrance marking the terrorist events of one year ago, at noon on Polk Place.  Nearly seventy-five campus service organizations will solicit volunteers during and after the service.

Moeser encouraged Employees to vote in the upcoming primary elections, noting that Orange County residents can vote via absentee ballot at the Morehead Planetarium through the end of the week.

The Chair introduced Gene Nichol, the dean of the School of Law and an authority on redistricting issues, to describe the events which led Senators Kinnaird and Lee to be matched against one another in the September 10 primary.

Nichol praised Kinnaird and Lee for their hard work for Orange County and the State, and said that this area was fortunate to have such distinguished civil servants as these two.  He wished the duo rest at the end of a difficult political campaign.

In regard to redistricting of the Legislature, Nichol noted that the State must redraw the lines that make up its various districts every ten years by constitutional law.  In 1963, the Supreme Court decided that districts must be approximately equal in population.  Before this decision, districts held in place for generations, with great differences in population between rural and urban locations.  The Supreme Court decided that this system flew in the face of political equality.

Since 1963, districts have had to hold a roughly equal number in terms of population.  With the new federal census, the relative equality of population goal was not met in various districts, and the Legislature had to redraw its districts.  Of course, redrawing the district lines leads to a political jerrymandering opportunity, in which the majority redraws the district lines to benefit its own candidates.

In 2002, the Democrats hold a strong majority in the Senate, with less of a majority in the House.  The Democrats did pass a legislative scheme that the Republicans challenged in the State’s court system.  A Republican judge in Johnston county agreed with the GOP’s arguments and invalidated the first leg of the Democratic redistricting plan.  The Democrats appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court which, in Nichol’s opinion, submitted an aggressive and unusual decision, also in favor of the GOP invalidating the entire legislative redistricting effort.

Then, the Legislature returned to the drawing board to create a redistricting plan which met the constitutional standards of the North Carolina Supreme Court, to be presented to Judge Jenkins of Johnston county.  Jenkins made changes which agreed mainly with the House but strongly changed the Senate’s proposed districts.  Nichol said that in his opinion Judge Jenkins did not have the authority to issue his decree on the Senate redistricting plan and had furthermore acted in a lawless and overreaching manner.  Nichol also said that Jenkins had substituted his own judgment apart from constitutional findings in this case.  However, the Supreme Court decided not to review the case before the election, leading the State to proceed under the redistricting plan substituted by Judge Jenkins.  Nichols’ personal opinion was that the Supreme Court’s ruling in this case was lawless and without justification.

Therefore, the altered Senate map will change North Carolina politics for a decade.  Locally, it throws together Senators Kinnaird and Lee into the same district, denying Orange and Chatham counties one of these two representatives.

Nichol introduced Kinnaird as a former mayor of Carrboro and a strong member of the State Senate.  Kinnaird said that it had been a difficult election campaign and said that she had worked together with Lee for a long period of time.  She said that the race was difficult for supporters who do not want to make a choice between the two candidates.  She added that whatever happens, the two have agreed to support one another.

Kinnaird recalled that she had been a state employee for many years as well as a State Employees’ Association (SEANC) member.  She said that a mayor only looks as good as what the staff does for the public.  She noted that State workers provide service, but do not manufacture products.  She said that what State workers do is give tirelessly of themselves to serve the citizens of the State.  She said that it had been a very bad year for State workers, and she worried about the numbers of workers to be laid off.  She said that the State would need to pay upwards of $20 million in severance pay, and wondered why the State did not just keep these workers on.

Kinnaird said that she was proud of employees who do such great service to the University and State.  She had been an advocate for State workers in the Legislature, knowing that the State did not recognize employees enough through pay and benefits.  She said that this year was among the worst, given that the State had eliminated contributions to the retirement system.  She did not blame State employees for wondering if the retirement system will be used to balance the budget.

Kinnaird said that the problem of the State budget is that employees receive the crumbs, after the Legislature prepares the rest.  She said that she would advocate an opposite approach if elected.  Kinnaird said that the budget is the main task of the Legislature, handling the tax structure, pay structure and other programs.  She noted that this year there existed a severe budget deficit.  She added that the Legislature had not examined the tax structure, and instead every year placed the deficit on the middle and lower income citizens.

In contrast, every year big corporations receive larger tax loopholes.  This year, the banks wanted their tax loophole back, while they already have $85 million loopholes.  Kinnaird said that the tax structure is not fair to the average citizen, and leads to cutting programs which in turn hurts the weak in society.

Kinnaird said that the current budget cuts $380 million from social service programs and stops Medicaid cuts.  Every health organization must review its programs to stop bleeding in the Medicaid program.  She said that the Legislature must find the courage to enact tax increases on cigarettes and win to fund mental health and substance abuse programs.

Kinnaird raised the topic of campaign finance reform, noting that Blue Cross/Blue Shield wants to convert to profit status after not having paid taxes for 20 years.  She recalled that Blue Cross/Blue Shield had started as a non-profit organization to help poor people.  She said that Blue Cross/Blue Shield was moving without the knowledge of the general public.  She said that the Legislature must move to stop this move, or at least force Blue Cross/Blue Shield to establish a trust fund if it converts.  She imagined that Blue Cross/Blue Shield would return to fight such a trust fund, and pointed to this debate as another example of how big money distorts services given to citizens.

In addition, Kinnaird had actively worked on the issue of payday lending.  Very poor people use payday lending in order to meet emergency expenses, but to receive paychecks in advance pay up to 380% interest.  Often, the family must take out loan after loan, digging themselves deeper and deeper into debt.  She noted that big banks own most small payday lending outfits.

Concerning the University, Kinnaird said that she had been a strong supporter of UNC-Chapel Hill, which she said faced legislative attacks all the time from Raleigh.  She cited the question of campus retention of overhead receipts.  She had tried to protect the University and its workers, and noted questions about how the Legislature’s work was affected by money.  She urged citizens to look out for the influence of money on the legislative process.  Accordingly, she had limited contributions to her campaign to $150/person, and $250 each for political action campaigns (PACs) which agree with her.  The state limit is $4000/PAC.

Kinnaird had introduced a bill which would require all contributors to campaigns to report from whom and what employer their money originates.  Now, the practice of bundling contributions in one envelope obscures the origin of contributions from the public.

With regard to civic affairs, Kinnaird hoped that listeners would vote early.  She had introduced a bill that would allow campus the right to set up central voting places, for the benefit of students who might not have access or knowledge of where to vote in their local precincts.  She had heard that UNC-Chapel Hill’s polling place might face elimination this year, and she had worked to restore it.

Kinnaird said that she had been active on environmental issues such as electronics recycling, open space preservation, and radioactive waste reduction.  She had also worked to increase funding for birth defects monitoring, something that a number of states have abandoned recently.

Nichol introduced Senator Howard Lee, the first black mayor of Chapel Hill and longtime member of the community and the Legislature.  He has been a major player in the Senate for a number of years.  Lee said that he was delighted to be here with his longtime friend and colleague Kinnaird.  He said that the pair had functioned as an effective team in the Senate, formed part of Orange County’s strongest delegation along with Joe Hackney, Verla Insko, and formerly Ann Barnes.  He said that the University and the community would miss this team as it would be broken up this year.

Lee said that the current match up was difficult for him given that he likes to run as a hard-hitting campaigner.  Unfortunately, he could not do that given his respect for his challenger.  Instead, he would run on his credentials on why voters should choose him.

Lee cited a radio ad which bothered him very much.  He said that the radio ad had tried to tear him down, ignoring the things he had achieved in his life.  He had come a long way from a sharecroppers’ farm, and had worked his way through the University and a tour of duty in Korea.  He returned to face a society which discriminated against African-Americans, refusing them the privileges of democracy for which he had fought.  He returned to Chapel Hill with a wife and two hungry children and had worked his way through graduate school into the North Carolina Senate.

He thought that he had used his level of attainment to do good for the people who trusted him.  He thought back to winning the election for mayor in 1969 when others had not given him a chance, and back to starting a bus system that many believed was not possible.  He had also formed the first town-gown commission to reduce tension between the town and the University.

He had worked to provide budget managerial flexibility for the University while in the Senate, and allow overhead receipts to remain on campus.  He had worked for graduate student tuition remission and carried the comprehensive compensation system through the Legislature.  While he had been defeated in the Senate in 1994, he had returned in 1996 to continue the work of finding funding for the comprehensive compensation plan.

With regard to this year’s budget, he was not proud of it but said that the State must have something to move through tough times.  He had voted for the budget proposal because it did fund Smart Start, Medicaid and programs in education, and could have been much worse.  Lee said that the budget did minimize cuts to education.

Lee said that the State’s budget faced difficulties because of the economy, with tax revenues and capital gains taxes down.  North Carolina has lost 180,000 jobs in the manufacturing and technological sector in recent years.  Lee said that the state can recover, but only with people of the courage and commitment to get the job done.  He said that the state must have people at the helm who can produce and get te job done.  He said that tobacco and alcohol taxes cannot pass the House, and said that it makes no sense to pursue bills which have no chance of passage.  Instead, legislators must take the hand they are dealt, and never lose sight of the goal to serve people.  He would work to underwrite increases for State employees to protect their long-term future, namely the retirement system.

Lee said that he would continue to work on keeping UNC-Chapel Hill and the University System strong and functioning.  He would protect resources to underwrite projects and fight for increases for State employees and protection of the retirement system, which underwriters say is $11 billion over-funded.  He had participated in a drive to reduce class sizes from 1 teacher to every 26 students to 1 teacher: 18 students.

He said that he would vote to allow a referendum on the education lottery, given that 80% want the opportunity to vote on the lottery.  He was uncertain if the lottery would pass but saw no reason why the Legislature should substitute its own judgment for that of the people.

Lee recalled that he had introduced smart growth legislation and helped created a smart growth commission with the help of Joe Hackney.  He knew that Orange and Chatham Counties need growth and transportation management, particularly along 15-501.  He said that Chatham County would face a great challenge in installing growth management procedures.

Finally, Lee said he would work to bring jobs to North Carolina.  However, he said that the current jobs bill need reexamination given that it is not being used in the ways intended.  He said that when he returned he would change the way the current jobs incentives bill works.  Lee said that he had voted for every campaign finance bill presented, and thought that the State could do more to improve the accuracy of outside issue ads.  Lee said that citizens know exactly how much he has spent on his campaign, and added that the State does need to reform campaign finance.  He would present this question as part of an overall proposal concerning outside groups.

Lee urged voters to consider who will get the job done rather than simply judging on emotionalism.  He said that both candidates are nice people who would not embarrass their constituents.  Still, Lee asked if voters would choose who to fly a plane, the nicest person or the person most skillful.

Lee recalled that his mother had left him back in first grade because he did not do his best but rather had done just enough to get by.  His mother had cut through the motion of the situation and taught him a valuable lesson to do his best.  He had served as mayor of Chapel Hill and Secretary of Human Resources under Jim Hunt, and had risen to the seventh most effective senator and member of the Senate appropriations committee.

The Chair then opened the floor for previously submitted and current questions.  One question asked the position of Kinnaird and Lee on reducing corporate taxes.  Kinnaird said that she could not believe that the Legislature had even proposed to reduce corporate taxes $100 million in this budgetary environment.  She said that the good educational system should serve as a sufficient incentive to employers.  She said that the State has starved the community college system for years a system which serves to retrain workers in difficult economic times.  She said that counties should stop their bidding war for business through tax incentives, saying that the State has already given too many gifts to corporations.  She said that the cultural amenities the State offers should offer more incentives for businesses to relocate here.  She recalled the failed scheme to lure corporations to the Global Transpark near Kinston.  Kinnaird asked how the Legislature could put the tax structure to the best use for citizens.

Lee said that the legislation in question originated in the House.  He said that the Senate must address conceptual concerns, and thought that the bill would face a tough fight when it reaches the Senate again.  However, he said that the State must recognize the competition for industry with places like South Carolina, which Lee said took 7-10,000 jobs from North Carolina last year.  He said that the State must think more creatively how to attract jobs outside urban areas.  He would not close the door on corporate incentives.

An Employee asked why teachers would receive a 1.78% salary increase while other State employees would receive nothing.  He asked why one group was valued more than the other.  Lee said that the Senate was reacting to the great shortage of teachers in the state, and the number of teachers leaving the classroom.  He said that salary increases for other State employees still found discussion in the Legislature, but this step would require additional money.  He noted that the House had proposed and the Senate was open to accept giving State employees ten additional days of vacation.

Kinnaird said that both groups contribute to the well-being of the state, and she did not want competition between the groups.  She had received hundreds of e-mails from people who use services given to the elderly and disabled.

A written question stated that faculty members receive frequent tuition increases and EPA non-faculty employees receive 24 days vacation, an amount that would take SPA Employees 20 years to earn.  The Employee feared a caste system at the University, noting that some Employees must work additional jobs to make ends meet and cannot afford health insurance.

Kinnaird recalled starting work with the State with two weeks vacation.  She did not know how the State divides its work now, but recalled that employees had to work their up to earn additional vacation each year.  She said that the State must address the problem of health insurance for dependents and the problems of the lowest aid workers.  Kinnaird said that people who must work two jobs are not available for PTA meetings and their events for their children.  She said that it was time for the Legislature to start listening to its employees.

Lee said that the State must prioritize its efforts to protect the employee health plan first of all.  He said that as people leave the State health plan, it becomes a smaller group which must pay comparatively more in premiums.  So, firstly the State must preserve the State health plan.

Lee said that he understands the struggles of SPA employees, and had attempted to raise the floor for these employees with Ann Barnes.  He proposed that institutions should set aside a portion of tuition increases for these employees in the University System.  He said he would be open to other ideas.

Kinnaird said that a study commission examining the cost of prescription drugs would impact the State health plan, given the high cost of prescriptions to the plan as well as to Medicaid and the department of correction.  She thought that the State should negotiate for lower prices and hoped that the Legislature would enact such a study commission.

John Heuer asked if either legislator would support health care as a right of citizenship or a lottery to support the cost of health care.  Lee said that he would not support a lottery for any other purpose than education.  He would not support lottery proceeds usage in the State general fund.  He did think it reasonable to consider a broader coverage health plan, perhaps by providing a minimal level of services to spouses of State employees.  He was also interested in broader coverage for businesses, noting that coverage for his business had jumped 45%.

As far as Representative Insko’s bill advocating health care as a right of citizenship, Lee said that the idea sounded good but that he had not read the bill and so could not commit to it without understanding its finer points.  He said if the idea came up in a formal hearing he would determine his support.

Kinnaird said that she felt thrilled that Insko had introduced this bill to make health care a constitutional right of all citizens.  She had studied the cost of indigent health care and found that any insurance would cost the State less than the cost of indigents using the emergency room as their primary health care source.  This study found that for the price paid, the State could pay for health care coverage for every single person.  Kinnaird added that the national health care system should implode very soon and that nothing yet tried, including HMOs, had worked.  She said that eventually the State and nation would have universal health care.  She said that these ideas may take years to grow but eventually can bear fruit.

Kinnaird said that she opposed a lottery since she believes it does not create jobs, retail merchants oppose it, and it requires a great deal of advertising to remain profitable.  She said that the State does not advertise its ABC services, and she recalled that every state in the nation except for Georgia had given up its authority to demand proceeds for education alone.  Even in Georgia, the pressure for students on a Hope scholarship had led to grade inflation, as students there face pressure to maintain a ‘B’ average.  Kinnaird said that the state knows that a referendum would pass but the Legislature must take responsibility for deciding if there should be a lottery in North Carolina or not.  She did not approve of using lottery proceeds for health care.

Lee said that a constitutional amendment for free health care must pass the Legislature.  The Legislature would need to consider unintended consequences of the vote, such as an increase in taxes.  Lee said that he would chair a committee to study State employees’ compensation and he believed he could be very effective in this role.  He recalled his efforts to pass the comprehensive compensation system in 1993, and said that he had been accessible to employee concerns since then.

The Chair read a written question which noted that the September 2001 convention had voted advising the State to repeal the collective bargaining laws for State employees by a large majority.  The Employee asked what Kinnaird and Lee thought about this decision.  Kinnaird thought that the time had come for collective bargaining for State employees.  She thought that the State should sit down with employees at the beginning of the process to discuss concerns.  She thought it was a reasonable request to ask the Legislature to repeal the law and said that she would work to repeal.  She also noted that some University housekeepers are members of a union which does not have the power to sit down at the table with anyone.  She thought that State employees should have an equal bargaining position with the State.

Lee said that to put together a budget presents a difficult job.  He said that those outside the process can find it easy to criticize.  Lee said that he would not introduce legislation to repeal this law, and said that any citizen has the right to sit down with those who made the budget.  He said that he would be glad to involve employees in the legislative process and had met with SEANC once and had attempted to meet for a second time.  He did not want to work with groups that sought only to toss rocks.

A Employee asked if the senators supported doing away with the UNC System, and having each campus represent itself in discussions with the Legislature.  Lee said that UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State represent the UNC System’s flagship institutions.  He said that these higher profile institutions improve the situation for the System’s smaller schools such as Elizabeth City State.  He approved of the work of the Board of Governors as long as it redefined itself to be smaller with more student representation.  He believed that the Board of Trustees at each campus should be strengthened, as each board makes decisions that impact the campus.  He thought that the UNC System advanced the cause of public schools and if reelected he would work to make sure they functioned as always.

Kinnaird said that the inequality between System campuses represents a very serious problem.  She noted that former System president William Friday had said that all schools need help, and the smaller schools did not have a voice in the Legislature before creation of the UNC System.  She said that the 16 campus System should speak with one voice rather than each acting individually.

An Employee asked if the senators would support a state-wide assembly of campus staff organizations such as the Employee Forum.  Lee said that such an organization could be useful to increase communication and present issues to the Legislature.  Kinnaird said that this idea’s time had come and recalled the success of the students’ statewide organization.

The Chair noted that the Forum had passed a resolution asking for staff representation on the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees.  He asked the senators’ feeling on the topic.  Kinnaird said that the students had lobbied for their non-voting seat for years.  She thought it would be a great idea to provide the staff a seat on the Board.

The Chair read a question from an Employee who asked how the senators thought the Horace Williams/Carolina North master plan would affect Chapel Hill residents.  Lee said that much depends on how the master plan is constructed.  He thought that the level of communication would impact the plan, and said that a neighborhood group has expressed questions about living near a University fueling depot.  Those citizens thought that the plan would have an adverse impact on their neighborhood.  He was in the process of arranging a meeting between this group and University officials.

Beyond this point, Lee said that the eventual outcome of the plan contains much potential for the towns and the University.  He thought that the tract could play an important role in the future of higher education in the state.  However, he hoped that the plan would minimize its impact on the town of Chapel Hill.  He thought that much should be drawn back to the need for smart growth procedures, and take into account variables such as transit, recreation and schooling.

Kinnaird noted that neighbors around the project thought that the University was pressing for an inappropriate use of land.  She recalled that the University had taken two years to construct a plan for use of the area but the University administration had turned over twice since then, leaving the plan in limbo.  She said that that older plan had taken into consideration the impact of development on neighborhood communities.

Kinnaird said that Chapel Hill is a small town with a big University.  Many Employees are also residents, and the impact of county, city and University jurisdictions plays a great role on the development process.  She hoped that citizens would continue to press for an active role in the development plan.

Tom Arnel asked what specific measures the legislators had approved which had advanced State Employee benefits.  Kinnaird said that the budget usually is introduced by the entire conference committee or appropriations committee of each body.  She said that she had introduced other things related to retirement, health insurance and other compensation.  Lee said that individual legislators do not introduce bills to advance pay for State employees.  Instead, the special provision of the budget has the names of the six major committee chairs.

Katherine Graves asked why State employees seem to fall on the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to budget negotiations.  Lee disagreed with this assessment, noting that the State had chosen to withhold retirement contributions on the advice of the State treasurer, a decision which should hold no appreciable impact on employees receiving their retirement checks.  Furthermore, the State has worked diligently to insure the continued existence of the State health plan.  Finally, Lee said that the State does not have the resources to give employees a raise this year, and barely has enough to give retirees a 1.1% cost of living increase.  Lee said that he had worked to be responsive to people.

Kinnaird said that the power imbalance in the State Legislature had caused the legislative logjam.  She said that the Legislature should investigate a tobacco and alcohol tax, and should not rely on a regressive sales tax.  She thought that collective bargaining would not occur because of conservative elements in the Legislature.

Lee added that tax incentives help the state attract and keep jobs, and he did not oppose tax loopholes.  However, he opposed opening additional tax loopholes until the Legislature had tightened down on current abuses.  He noted that a number of small companies had received tax rebates then left the state.

The Chair asked each senator to summarize their position.  Lee said that he found it inspiring to speak to the Forum and said that voters should find a lot to feel proud of about him.  He noted that some SEANC members opposed him, possibly more on the basis of symbolism than substance.  He said that he had received good support from employees throughout the years, and he had worked hard to be accessible.  He had his telephone number publicly listed at home and in Raleigh.

Kinnaird noted the length of this debate demonstrated the commitment people feel to the issues involved.  She appreciated the opportunity to speak and said she would be an advocate for employees in the Senate.  She looked forward to helping all if elected.

The Chair praised both senators as great leaders of the University and the state.  He noted that the Forum would hold its ten year anniversary event next month and invited both to attend.  He also said that the state would work its way out of the recession and invited both senators to call on the Forum for help if needed.  He thanked all for coming today.

The Chair introduced Corrie Mimms to talk about the educational assistance program and how this money is used.  Mimms said that the program reimburses Employees for educational expenses excepting books for up to $200 a fiscal year.  Employees must work 20 hours or more a week.  One hundred twenty-four Employees have used the educational assistance program, attending any one of the sixteen state universities.  Of these 124 Employees, 29 took private courses, 41 attended college and university courses and 63 attended seminars.  Mimms said that the Forum’s recent move advocating use of the staff development fund for the educational assistance program should enable the reimbursement to grow to $250 at some point in the future.  However, this money has not yet been transferred.

Keita Cannon asked if continuing education classes are eligible under the program.  Mimms said that these classes are eligible.

Human Resources Update

Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources noted that Employees have probably received a letter stating that the State health plan does not designate a specific health insurance program.  In other words, Employees can choose either the State plan or nothing.  Employees also will receive the plan on a pre-tax basis unless they specify otherwise on an attached form.  Employees choosing not to participate should specify by September 30.

Secondly, legislative changes in the retirement system will allow a rollover of contributions in 453 and 403(b) programs to repurchase State retirement, as of July 1, 2003.  Charest would have more information as it becomes available, as this is an important change.

The State has initiated a supplemental health indemnity plan though North Carolina Flex, starting in 2003.  This supplemental plan will not replace the State plan, but can help.  Human Resources will get information out about this supplemental plan when it becomes available.  Charest emphasized that Employees can choose to purchase this supplemental plan in addition to the State plan, but not as a replacement.

The Forum unanimously approved the minutes of the August 7 meeting.

The Forum heard a resolution concerning the controversy over the University’s summer reading program on first reading.  It would consider the resolution in greater detail at its October meeting.

In the interest of time, the Forum agreed by acclamation to forego committee reports.  The Chair reminded members about the Chancellor’s University Day speech that afternoon, the Forum’s fall community meeting on personnel flexibility September 13, and the Forum reunion and annual portrait taking place the next month.  He thanked the senators for their remarks.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:44 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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