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KERRY FIGHTS TO INCLUDE RETIREES IN STIMULUS

Members Urged to Contact Federal Representatives

FEBRUARY 10, 2009: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is fighting to include retired public employees in the federal stimulus bill that is before Congress.
Contained within the vast bill is a provision that, if passed into law, will grant Social Security recipients a one-time $300 stimulus payment. This payment is in lieu of the federal income tax cut that workers are about to receive on their payroll withholdings.

WHITE RESPONDS TO PENSION FUND LOSS

Defends PRIT’s Investment Record

FEBRUARY 5, 2009: Much has been made about the investment loss of the Commonwealth’s Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) Fund in Year 2008.

Overall, the Fund lost $15.9 billion in 2008, falling from $53.7 billion to $37.8 billion, a 29.4 percent fall.

2009-2010 LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

COST OF LIVING

1)  Increase Maximum COLA Base (Senator Walsh and Senator Jehlen)

Currently, the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) is determined by applying the percentage increase (i.e., 3%) to an eligible retiree’s pension, up to their first $12,000 of retirement benefits, which is the maximum COLA base. The $12,000 maximum base was established in the landmark COLA legislation (Chapter 17) enacted in 1997. Our efforts to increase the $12,000 base, during the 2007-2008 legislative session, have been well chronicled.

PATRICK BACKS 3% STATE/TEACHER COLA

Local Acceptance Now Underway

 

JANUARY 30, 2009: Governor Deval Patrick has included a 3% COLA increase in his FY 2010 budget proposal. The COLA, which will take effect on July 1, now must be approved by the House and Senate as part of the budget. If passed, this marks the thirteenth consecutive year in which a COLA has been granted by the state.

MUNICIPAL GIC: MEDICARE PART B KEY BARGAINING CHIP

JANUARY 1, 2009: Over the past eighteen months, scores of Massachusetts cities, towns, and various other governmental entities have been in open negotiation over whether or not to enroll local retirees and employees into the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) health insurance plans.

These communities are using a process established by Chapter 67, Acts of 2007, commonly referred to as Section 19 or coalition bargaining. Under coalition bargaining, local retirees negotiate their health insurance benefits together with active city/town employees as part of a public employee committee (PEC). A weighted vote of 70% of the PEC (retirees have an automatic 10% vote) and approval of the governing authority is needed to join the GIC.

RELIEF FOR LOCAL RETIREMENT SYSTEMS

Association Supports Changes In Funding Schedules

JANUARY 22, 2009: At the core of any proposal for pension benefit improvements is its impact on the retirement system’s pension funding schedule. For the past 20 years, local retirement boards have been administering their systems in compliance with a pension funding schedule.

GOVERNOR URGES PENSION REFORM

Appoints White to Commission

JANUARY 16, 2009: In his annual State of the State Address, Governor Deval Patrick repeated his call for so-called pension reform, urging the Legislature to work with him to enact changes this year. Retirees should be aware that current pension benefits are protected by law and cannot be altered or repealed.

STATE GIC HALTS TALK OF MID-YEAR INCREASES TO COPAYMENTS/DEDUCTIBLES

JANUARY 10, 2009: State insurance officials have halted talk of mid-year increases in copayments and deductibles, which had been eyed to cover recent budget cuts. In October, $32 million was cut from the Group Insurance Commission’s FY09 Budget.

STATE FISCAL SHORTFALL REVISED

More Budget Cuts Expected

JANUARY 2, 2008: With Governor Deval Patrick now revising his fiscal shortfall in the current budget (FY09 budget) by an additional $1 billion over his October estimate of $1.4 billion, cities and towns are preparing for cuts in their budgets.

MUNICIPAL GIC: MEDICARE PART B KEY BARGAINING CHIP

JANUARY 1, 2009: Over the past eighteen months, scores of Massachusetts cities, towns, and various other governmental entities have been in open negotiation over whether or not to enroll local retirees and employees into the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) health insurance plans.