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Microsoft agrees not to commit accounting violations in settlem

By now, most state residents know the Public Employees Insurance Agency is buried in debt. In fact, according to a recent report, the agency may be as much as $20 million in the red by June 30, the end of this fiscal year.

Because of that, the PEIA will raise the average state worker's insurance premium $26 per month for family coverage beginning July 1.

And Director Tom Susman says more increases are pending.

"One thing that we're not going to do is mislead people, Susman told The Associated Press. "We let people know where we are. There will be increases."

But at the same time Susman and state government are raising rates for state workers, Susman is receiving a $50,000 pay raise.

That's because he's been named Insurance and Retirement Services director. In the new position, he will oversee PEIA, the Consolidated Public Retirement Board, the Board of Risk and Insurance Management and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Secretary of Administration Greg Burton told The Associated Press that Gov. Bob Wise's administration anticipates saving more than $50,000 by the apparent streamlining of operations.

Let's hope so.

The poor timing of the raise in relationship to the insurance premium increase will undoubtedly create morale problems among state workers -- and justifiably so. It sends a poor message.

And if the move doesn't save at least $50,000, it will be just another example of poor government.

It will be interesting to see how Gov. Wise's "streamlining" efforts really work.

John G. Miller

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