Breaking News

Mass. Municipal Association Strikes Again

Attempt to Kill $16,000 COLA Base

May 20, 2008: The Mass. Municipal
Association – the advocacy arm of the Commonwealth’s mayors and town managers –
has struck again. This time it was an 11th hour letter to all State
Senators opposing a Senate budget amendment that would allow municipal retirees
to receive a three-percent COLA on a $16,000 base, up from the current $12,000.

CAHILL OPPOSES COLA INCREASE PROPOSAL

Cites ‘Fictitious’ Dangers To Bond Rating

MAY 15, 2008: Striking a body blow to the Association’s hopes of raising the base, to which the annual cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) is applied, state Treasurer and Receiver General Timothy Cahill has come out against the proposed $16,000 base, passed by the House and contained in the Senate’s FY09 budget. Specifically, the treasurer, who chairs the state’s pension board, is against extending the pension funding schedule by three-years to accommodate this modest increase in the COLA base.

SENATE ENDORSES $16,000 COLA BASE

Budget Rider Includes State, Teacher and Local Retirees

MAY 14, 2008: Providing a major boost to public retirees, Senate leaders unveiled their version of the Fiscal 2009 State Budget that includes language raising the COLA base to $16,000. The three outside sections of S2600 raise the base not only for state and teacher retirees, but also allow local retirement systems to provide the same $16,000 COLA base for local retirees.

IMPORTANT COLA BASE ALERT

An amendment to raise the pension COLA base to $16,000 for state and teacher retirees was adopted by a 153-0 vote during House debate on May 2nd. The amendment, which was offered by Representative Frank Hynes (D-Marshfield), came during the final day of House debate on the FY ’09 State Budget. Because the amendment included a provision to extend the state’s unfunded pension liability payment schedule from the current date of 2023 to 2026, local government retirement systems, which have their own individual funding schedules, could not be included in Rep. Hynes’s amendment. It is important to our Association that all retirees, state and local, have the same opportunity to increase their COLA base from $12,000 to $16,000.

HOUSE PASSES 3% COLA IN BUDGET

MAY 2, 2008: As the Massachusetts House of Representatives worked to complete their annual budget deliberations, Association officials are confident that the 3% cost-of-living increase (COLA) contained within the budget is secure for 2008. The 3% increase, which takes effect in July, is applied to a maximum base of $12,000.

UPDATE: Stimulus Checks Now Being Mailed

dugan_mary_ann.jpgMary Ann Dugan of Medford is our first “confirmed” member to have received a US Treasury check under the federal Economic Stimulus Program. She was eligible because she showed a tax liability of over $600 on her IRS 1040 report.

“I went online on April twenty eighth to check my bank account and was surprised to see that a $600 stimulus check had been credited to my account that morning,” Dugan reported. While the intent of the program was to improve the economy by recipients going on a spending splurge, that wasn’t so in Mary Ann’s case. “I used the money to pay bills. It cost me $45 just to fill the near-empty tank of my Mercury Sable. I don’t think many retirees are going out and buying new HDTV’s (high definition) with their check,” the Department of Mental Retardation retiree said with a chuckle.

We would be interested in hearing from other members who received their stimulus checks.

STATE INSURANCE INCREASES AVERAGE 6.5%

MAY 2008: Following the announcement in February that all existing health plan contracts will be extended for at least another year, the state’s thirteen-member Group Insurance Commission (GIC) approved the new health insurance rates for Fiscal Year 2009.

NORTH ADAMS WAS TOP FUND IN '07

MAY 2008: Three local retirement boards, North Adams, Malden and Northampton, were the top three winners in our annual, unofficial, Pension Fund Investment Earnings Contest for Year 2007. 

UPDATE: More Retirees May Be Eligible For Stimulus Payment:

MAY 2, 2008: When the economic stimulus package was signed by President Bush on February 13, Association staff began reviewing information, released by the Internal Revenue Service, detailing the new federal law. Based on our reading of the IRS material at that time, we believed that public retirees could not use their pension income in order to qualify for the stimulus payment.

STONEHAM INSURANCE DEBATE CONTINUES

Meeting Between Stoneham Selectmen and Retired Teachers Cancelled, Negotiations Between Town’s Labor Leaders And Town Manager Tentative

The meeting between the Stoneham Board of Selectmen and Stoneham’s retired teachers scheduled for April 22 was cancelled. This meeting was to be held for the purpose of withdrawing retired teachers from the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC).