RETIREMENT SYSTEM DEFENSE MOUNTS

JAN 2007 - Report Rebuffs Pioneer Attack - The top priority at the fall
conference of the Massachusetts Association of Contributory Retirement Systems (MACRS)
was the same as that of the spring conference: Put a halt to the negative
attacks on our state’s 106 retirement systems.

 

For the
over 300 registered guests who gathered in Danvers
this fall, it was a time to come together and strengthen the resolve against
the attacks put forth against our retirement system over the past year.

And as it
turned out, MACRS has not been sitting on its thumbs since last spring. Its
leaders have developed a strategy - a strategy which began with a 24-page White
Paper, which was distributed to retirement board delegates
at the fall conference - a white paper that is far more truthful and far more
accurate about the successful service that our retirement systems have provided
over the past 80 years, than the literature and information that our detractors
have been spewing.

Titled “The
Commonwealth’s Pension System: A Good Investment For Massachusetts”, the White
Paper was commissioned by the Massachusetts Public Pension
Forum (MPPF) to show the true strengths of our state’s 106 public retirement
systems. The MPPF is a non-profit educational consortium comprised of the
various financial firms, which invest and manage our public pension assets.

The
conclusions of the White Paper
are as follows: The Massachusetts retirement systems are financially sound;
provide a good value for state and local taxpayers; are well funded; and help the
state’s economy.

Another
key finding of the report (one that is well known to public employees) is that
today’s public employee is funding the majority of their retirement benefit on
their own. As reported by the Blue Ribbon Panel last spring, Group 1 employees,
who comprise the largest number of public employees, contribute 74.1% towards
the funding of their pension benefit.

Even
police and firefighters, who have earlier retirement ages and higher instances
of disability, fund over 67% of their own pension benefit. Over time the
percentages will increase as more employees are hired who will contribute an
average of 10% of their salary into the pension system.

“By
commissioning this study, the MPPF and its president, Gene Durgin, have helped
to set the record straight in terms of the strengths of our retirement system. The
facts really speak for themselves,” said Association President Ralph White. “For
months the Romney-Healey Administration has used the Pioneer Institute’s white
paper as a rallying call for pension reform.

“Now we
have a document to point to that sets the record straight. We have a very
healthy public retirement system here in Massachusetts,
which is good for our retirees and employees, and helps to grow our local
economy.”

Murray Addresses Conferees

One of
the highlights of the conference was a speech by Lt. Governor-elect Tim Murray.
As Worcester
mayor, Murray
has been a close friend and supporter of our public retirement systems and the
important defined benefit pension plan that we provide.

In his
remarks, Murray
promised that the incoming administration, lead by Governor-elect Deval
Patrick, is a friend of our public retirement systems. Marking a major shift
from the outgoing Romney Administration, he pledged to work together and have
open lines of communication.

Also
addressing the conferees was Joel Barrera of the Metropolitan Area Planning
Council, who outlined the ongoing effort to allow easier access of local
retirees and employees to the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC). At the
close of his remarks, Barrera answered a number of questions from local labor
leaders.

“Between
the White Paper, Lt. Governor Murray and Joel
Barrera, we were exposed to a plethora of good information and issues that will
be important during the coming legislative session,” commented the Association’s
Shawn Duhamel. “Just the prospect of having an approachable Administration is a
breath of fresh air.”

Award to Linda Cavanaugh

On
banquet night, on the last day of the MACRS conference the prestigious Joe
Carroll award was presented to Lynda Cavanaugh of the Westfield Retirement
Board.

The
award, named after former Teachers’ Retirement Board Director Joe Carroll, is
in recognition of a person who has provided outstanding service to his/her
retirement board over a period of time.

In
presenting the award, MACRS Vice Pres. Denis Devine not only praised Cavanaugh’s
work at the Retirement Board, but also recognized her dedication to MACRS. “Lynda
has been a valuable asset to MACRS. She has spent countless hours of her own
time working on behalf of our annual conference and promoting the MACRS message
throughout the state,” said Devine.

“When
there’s work to be done, we can always count on Lynda. For years we’ve somewhat
taken it for granted that if there’s a job to be done that doesn’t fit the
niche of our Executive Board, Lynda will handle it. It’s only fitting that we
honor her with this award.”

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