Legislation

Articles about Legislation that may be useful to Massachusetts retirees.

Tax Package Nears Final Passage

JULY 2002
- Unlike previous years when the state's economy was robust, this
year's budget debate stands in marked contrast, as major decisions on
taxes had to be made by the Legislature. Debate in both the House and
Senate was punctuated by intense negotiations between leadership and
members over the specific taxes to be included in a package.

ERIs May Save Local Jobs

JULY 2002
- Communities Taking Quick Action - The passage of a local government early retirement incentive (ERI)
bill on May 22 may have come just in time to save some jobs in our
cities and towns.

Local Early Retirement Nears Approval

MAY 2002
- Strong Support In Legislature - Early retirement legislation, similar to that offered to Group 1
state employees and Group 2 court personnel, is now in the legislative
pipeline at the State House.

Leaders Tackle Fiscal Crisis

MAY 2002
- Pension Fund Reduction Not On Table - Faced with a $2.3 billion FY ‘03 budget deficit, Legislative leaders
continue to grapple with ways to reduce the huge gap, while at the same
time deal with a $600 million deficit in the current fiscal year which
ends this July 1.

MWRA Early-Out Adopted

MARCH 2002 - An early retirement incentive program is now underway at the Mass Water Resources Authority.

Dimasi Is New House Majority Leader

MARCH 2002
- Championed 1997 COLA Reform - Old friend Representative Sal DiMasi, of Boston's North End, was
recently named House Majority Leader by Speaker Thomas Finneran. The
slot, the second highest office in the House, had been open for several
months after the resignation of Bill Nagle, who was appointed
clerk-magistrate of the Ware District Court.Members
will remember that it was DiMasi who led the 1997 charge on the House
floor to win COLA reform legislation (Ch.17), in the face of tremendous
opposition by mayors and municipal officials.

Chandler To Chair Key Committee

MARCH 2002 - Worcester Senator Eager To Begin Work - Just days before press time, Senate President Thomas Birmingham announced several changes in Senate Committee assignments.Key
to our Association's legislative program, was the appointment of
Senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester) to the Senate chairmanship of
the Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Service. This Committee is
the first stop for all public retirement and insurance legislation.

Legislators Speak-Out

MARCH 2002 - Against Pension Funding Cut - The debate, as to whether or not to allow Acting Governor Jane Swift's
veto of $134 million from the state's pension appropriation, raged on
for several hours in the House and nearly an hour in the Senate. Due to
the importance of this vote, as well as the complexities of the issue,
we would like to share excerpts from the debate with our members. The
Association has chosen to print only the statements made by those in
favor of overriding the veto. These quotes have been taken from the
report generated by the State House News Service. While many
legislators spoke on behalf of the override, limited space dictates
that we offer a representative sampling from five supporters. Debate in
the House began at 5:20 p.m. on December 5, when the question came on
overriding Acting Governor Swift's veto in line item 0612-1010 pension
liability fund, reducing it by $133.9 million. At that point, Speaker
Thomas Finneran recognized Representative John Rogers (D-Norwood), the
chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.
John Rogers:
"A short time ago, I asked during consideration of the conference
committee report that you not allow good policy to take a seat behind
good politics. This violates the pension law as it is on the books. It
will have a negative impact on our bond rating to some degree... The
schedule the administration is pushing, by stretching it out another
decade, will cost from 2019 to 2028 an additional $8 billion. That is
an actuarial fact. The major reason we should override this veto is
because it's not good policy."

Second Half Of 2001-2002

MARCH 2002
- Legislative Session Underway - Following the September 11 terrorist attacks, and the ongoing
recession that has damaged the state's finances, our Association's
legislative package remains in a holding pattern before various
committees.Despite
reduced revenues, our legislative team was successful in advancing
several bills that are of importance to public retirees. When the Joint
Committee on Public Service completed their first series of hearings in
June of 2001, nine Association supported bills had been reported
favorably.

Local Early-Out Legislation Underway

MARCH 2002
- Now that state employees have had their crack at an early retirement
incentive, local employees - city, town, county, authority, district -
will have the same opportunity.