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OBAMA BRINGS HOPE TO SOCIAL SECURITY FIGHT

Illinois Retirees Hit By Offsets

JANUARY 1, 2009: Whether they supported his candidacy or not, the election of Barack Obama, as the 44th President of the United States, has brought a renewed hope to the thousands of members suffering under the Social Security Offset laws.

PENSION FUNDING CENTER STAGE AT STATE REVENUE HEARING

DECEMBER 15, 2008: The state’s top budget officials held a day-long hearing on the Commonwealth’s economic outlook for 2009 and the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget at the State House on Monday.

joint_revenue_hearing.jpgCo-chairing the meeting was Secretary of Administration and Finance Leslie Kirwan, House Ways and Means Chairman Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Steven Pangiotakos (D-Lowell). The full House and Senate Ways and Means Committees were also impaneled, asking detailed questions of state officials, economists, and the various business leaders who testified on the state’s overall fiscal health.

BOSTON INVESTS IN STATE FUND

December 5, 2008: At the December 2 meeting of the Commonwealth’s PRIM Board, it was announced that the City of Boston Retirement Board had voted to transfer 27% of the Boston Retirement System’s assets to the Commonwealth’s Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) Fund. The 27% transfer equates to the Boston teachers’ pro rata value of the $3.8 billion Boston pension fund. The 3-2 vote by the Boston Board took place at their October 29th meeting. A home rule petition, allowing the transfer, will be filed with the State’s Legislature.

GIC EYES RARE MID-YEAR INSURANCE CHANGES

December 1, 2008: Following a $32 million budget cut, officials with the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) are grappling with the possibility of mid-year changes to the 16 insurance plans offered through the agency.

With the economic recession causing a sudden and severe drop in state tax revenue, the governor was forced to use his so-called “9C” powers to cut $1 billion from the current state budget in October. The GIC’s FY’09 budget, which totals nearly $1 billion, was reduced by $32 million resulting in the shortfall. In addition to cuts in most state agencies, 1,000 state employees were laid off.

IMPORTANT NEWS FROM STATE'S PENSION INVESTMENT BOARD

NOVEMBER 18, 2008: With most of our state’s municipal and county retirement systems having a stake in the Commonwealth’s Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) Fund, which has seen its market value drop by at least $15 billion this year, there has been some concern among the board trustees (board members) of these local systems.

In a November 14 letter from Paul Todisco, senior client services officer of the Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board, which oversees the PRIT Fund, Todisco explains the policy that the Board has followed during this extreme market decline. Regardless of whether you are a member of the State and Teachers’ Retirement Systems, or one of our 104 local retirement systems, we feel that you will find this letter most interesting and reassuring in light of the current recession.

WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE

NOVEMBER 17, 2008: In an effort to keep members updated on the latest breaking news relative to Massachusetts public retirement, the Association has launched a new weekly News Alert, which coincides with our longstanding toll-free recorded hotline.

On Friday, November 21, 2008 the Association will hold our annual South Eastern MA meeting at White’s of Westport. The meeting begins at 1:00 PM and is conveniently located at the junction of I-195 and Rt. 24.

VOTE NO ON QUESTION ONE

OCTOBER 30, 2008: With just days remaining before the election on Novermber 4, Association officials are calling on members to VOTE NO on Question 1.

Advocates of limited government are at it once again, this time proposing to reduce state spending by 40%. Sponsored by the Committee For Small Government, a binding referendum will appear on the general election ballot on November 4, 2008 that asks Massachusetts voters to do away with that state’s 5.3% income tax.

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WEIGH IN ON WEP/GPO

OCTOBER 10, 2008: While the Association has not taken a position or endorsed either presidential candidate, members have inquired about Senator McCain and Senator Obama’s position relative to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).

 

As part of our efforts to repeal both regressive laws, the Association works closely with a number of national organizations and coalitions. One of our closest allies on the national level is the National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), which recently conducted written interviews with McCain and Obama regarding their positions on Social Security, Medicare and other issues impacting retired public employees.

PENSIONS SECURE DESPITE ECONOMIC TURMOIL

SEPTEMBER 26, 2008: In light of the dire economic news coming from Washington and Wall Street over the past two weeks, the Association has received a number of calls, emails, and even visits to our Boston office from concerned retirees. Some have commented on their disgust at what is now occurring, but all have expressed a deep concern as to whether or not their pension is secure.
“To be clear, Massachusetts public pensions are perfectly safe and secure. Retirees have a contractual right to their pension benefit and it cannot be reduced or taken away,” said Association President Ralph White. “ Besides, our defined benefit system is designed to withstand the ups and downs of the global financial market. These are serious times for our country, but thankfully our pensions are not in jeopardy.”

LOCALS CONSIDER MOVE TO GIC

Negotiations Intensify With October 1 Deadline Looming

SEPTEMBER 22, 2008: As September draws to a close, local interest, in joining the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC), has intensified. In several communities, PECs (Public Employee Committee) have been negotiating with local officials to reach an agreement by this October 1, the deadline for contacting the GIC that they will be joining the state health insurance program next July (2009).