Breaking News

WEP AND GPO REPEAL GAINS SUPPORT IN WASHINGTON

MA Delegation Cosponsors Bills

FEBRUARY 27, 2008: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has reintroduced her bill to repeal the dreaded Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO). The bill, S484, has ten initial cosponsors and is now before the Senate Finance Committee.

John Kerry (D-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) are among the more notable Senators, from key retiree states, sponsoring the bill. Kerry remains chairman of the Subcommittee on Social Security, and is now the 5th ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, which now holds S484 under review.

ICE STORM OF 2008 WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN

Worse Than Blizzard of ‘78

In the annals of Central Massachusetts, the ice storm of this past December 11-12 is rated as worse than the Blizzard of ’78 in severity and hardship for many members.

With little warning, other than expected freezing rain on the eve of December 11, members were awakened during the night by a widespread power outage and the sound of trees snapping. When dawn arrived it appeared that he world had returned to a veritable Ice Age. And winter was still 10 days away.

STIMULUS PAYMENTS & TAX BREAKS COMING FOR RETIREES

FEBRUARY 18, 2009: Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus Package) signed by President Barack Obama on February 17, retirees who are now receiving Social Security will receive a one-time stimulus check of $250.00.

Retirees who are currently working will be treated the same as other wage-earners, specifically by a reduction of their tax withholdings up to a total of $400 ($800 per couple). And retirees who are neither working nor collecting Social Security will be applying to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for their $250 payment. 

PUBLIC RETIREES INCLUDED IN STIMULUS

FEBRUARY 16, 2009: With the inclusion of non-Social Security retirees in the federal stimulus bill now before President Obama, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has won a crucial fight on behalf of public retirees.

With the help of several members of the state’s Congressional delegation, Kerry was able to win Conference Committee approval of his amendment to grant public retirees the federal stimulus payment. The payment, which is contained within the Make Work Pay provisions in the $787 billion legislation, equals $250 per retiree.

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.