New Leaders For Public Service Committee

MAY 2005
- Buoniconti and Kaufman: Two Voices For Public Retirees - In making key committee assignments for the 2004-2005 legislative
session, Senate President Robert Travaglini and House Speaker Salvatore
DiMasi have named Senator Stephen Buoniconti (D-W. Springfield) and
Representative Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) to chair the key Joint
Committee on Public Service.

As
Association members are well aware, the Legislature's Joint Committee
on Public Service is absolutely essential to public retirees and
survivors. The committee's importance stems from the fact that public
retirement legislation is initially reviewed by the committee members
and staff, prior to any vote being taken.

Since
the creation of this Association in 1968, nearly all changes in public
retirement and retiree health insurance laws have been generated from
within the Public Service Committee. During this time, many of the
Committee's chairmen have been instrumental in shepherding retirement
related legislation into law.

Serving
in his sixth term, Kaufman, a former educator, is a veteran legislator
who is well known for his staunch support of public employees. Last
year, it was Kaufman who helped lead the way in blocking an attempt by
Governor Mitt Romney to push through legislation that would have
stripped Springfield retirees of many of their rights as part of a bill
designed to bailout the cash-strapped city.

Interestingly,
Buoniconti, who after serving two terms in the House, is now serving
his first term in the Senate, represents a portion of Springfield. He
has been an outspoken critic of the Romney controlled financial control
board, which now runs the city government. As a former Hampden County
prosecutor, he is known for his determination and thorough approach.

While
neither chairman has previously served on Public Service, Association
officers point to their backgrounds and solid reputations as evidence
that both men will succeed in their new role. In addition, Kaufman has
opted to keep the Committee's professional House staff in place. Both
Ted Miller and Evan Dube are veterans of the Committee and are well
versed in the nuances of public retirement.

“We
are very excited to get the new session underway and to be working with
Jay Kaufman and Steve Buoniconti. Both men are proving to be quick
studies on the issues affecting public retirees,” said Association
President Ralph White. “Our relationship with the Public Service
Committee and its chairmen has always been excellent. With the
committee's staff intact, I have no doubt that they will be off to a
good start.”

Former House Chairman
Robert Koczera (D-New Bedford) has been named vice chairman of the
Committee on House Personnel and Administration. And former Senate
Chairman Steven Tolman (D-Brighton) will be vice chairman of the Senate
Ways and Means Committee, while also remaining as vice chairman of the
Public Service Committee.

“Bob
Koczera did an outstanding job of chairing Public Service on the House
side,” said White. “He chairs several committees and is a very
dedicated rep, who is a true public servant wherever he is assigned.
Although Steve Tolman is no longer chairing Public Service, he will
still be a member of the Committee and a valuable link to pension
legislation.”

Voices Against Romney

Neither
Buoniconti or Kaufman is a stranger to taking on the tough fight and
standing for what they believe. Buoniconti has stood tall in the
defense of the public employees and retirees in the city of
Springfield, who have been targeted by Romney and his three-member
control board.

Kaufman, who was
well known for his public disagreements with former House Speaker
Thomas Finneran, has vowed to be an outspoken critic of the Republican
governor and his so-called “reform” initiatives.

“I
am not going to hesitate in taking on the governor for retirees and
pointing out how his policies harm them and public employees. Someone
has to stand up for public servants to set the record straight,” said
Kaufman. “For the past two years, the governor has used public servants
as a convenient target. It is about time the public hears the truth.”

In
the Senate, Buoniconti joins a host of Senators who have previously
served as chairman or vice chairman of Public Service. Currently, there
are seven Senators who have previously served as the head of the
Committee.

On the House side, eight
current Representatives have previously served as chairman or
vice-chair. Some former chairs have gone on to hold powerful leadership
positions within the Legislative Leadership. In the House, Rep. Thomas
Petrolati (D-Ludlow) is the speaker pro tem, while in the Senate Marian
Walsh (D-West Roxbury) serves as the assistant majority leader.

“Public
retirees are fortunate to have a number of strong supporters within
both branches of the Legislature. In addition to Chairmen Buoniconti
and Kaufman, there are fifteen other Legislators who have direct
knowledge of our retirement systems,” explained Association Legislative
Liaison Shawn Duhamel. “With both of our current chairmen being strong
advocates for public retirees, I am certain that the constant attacks
launched against public retirees by the governor will be stopped in
their tracks.”

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