Articles about Legislation that may be useful to Massachusetts retirees.

Early Retirement Underway

MARCH 2002
- 5-Year Bonus Tempts Employees - Ten years after the Commonwealth's first-ever Early Retirement
Incentive (ERI) program, droves of eligible state employees are again
taking advantage of a five-year service time or age bonus by agreeing
to retire on March 15, 2002.

EDITORIAL: Freeze The Tax Rollback

MAY 2002
- It probably won’t happen, but the fiscal crisis now underway in the
Commonwealth calls for a freeze of the state income tax rollback.

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."

Governor Is Off Base With Pension Fund Proposal

- Our Association has been more than fair with Governor Jane Swift ever
since she inherited the Corner Office from Governor Cellucci. We have
even gone so far as dropping "Acting" from the prefix which is commonly
used by the press in referring to Swift.But
when the Governor filed a proposal to arbitrarily change the
Commonwealth's long-range pension funding schedule, the backbone of our
state and teachers' retirement plans, she was treading on dangerous

Early Retirement Legislation Filed

JANUARY 2002 - First 6,700 Applicants Would Go By Spring - Dejavu struck Beacon Hill as Governor Jane Swift filed an early retirement bill

Legislation On Temporary Hold

- When the House and Senate adjourned on Thanksgiving eve, it signaled
the cessation of all formal legislative activity for the remainder of
the year. Most legislation came to a standstill during the lengthy
budget process and will be taken up when the Legislature returns in
January for the second half of the 2001-2002 session.

Tax Break For Pensions Now In Congress

- While the recently enacted federal tax cut law (the Economic Growth
and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001) reduces the tax on at least
the first $6,000 of the pension for a retiree ($10,000 for a couple),
the fact remains that one's public pension is subject to federal income
tax. In contrast, a taxpayer may be able to exclude all of his Social
Security if one-half of his SS benefits plus his other income does not
exceed $25,000 ($32,000 for a couple).