Breaking News

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).

LOCALS DENIED OPPORTUNITY FOR HIGHER COLA BASE

SEPTEMBER 2008: Legislation, that would allow municipal officials to vote for a $16,000 COLA base for local government retirees, was rejected by a House/Senate budget conference committee this June.

BREAKTHROUGH ON COLA BASE

SEPTEMBER 2008: A vote by the House and Senate, during the closing hours of the 2008 formal legislative session, has made it possible for eligible members of the State and Teachers’ Retirement Systems to receive three-percent COLAs calculated on a new $16,000 base.

(Editors Note: Shortly after going to press with this story, contained in the September issue of the Voice, Governor Patrick vetoed the legislation that would have increased the base to $16,000 in 2008)

A MESSAGE FROM ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT RALPH WHITE

To All Members, Regretfully, our attempt to increase the $12,000 COLA base to $16,000 for members of the State and Teachers’ Retirement Systems did not achieve success this year. Although the House and Senate enacted legislation, which would have extended the base to $16,000, the bill was returned to the Legislature by Governor Patrick with an amendment that extended the base to $16,000 only for retirees with annual pensions of under $40,000. Before being sent back to the Governor, the Legislature added a further amendment that would exclude pensions of over $40,000 from the $16,000 base, but only for one year. After a one-year sunset provision, the $16,000 base would have been effective for all pensions. The Governor then vetoed the bill, saying it did not include his “compromise language” and expressed concern about adding significant costs to the Commonwealth’s large unfunded liability. Since at the time of the veto the Legislature had adjourned from formal session for the remainder of the year, there was no opportunity to override the veto. This could only be accomplished in a formal session.

GOVERNOR VETOS COLA LEGISLATION

Association Officials Express Outrage

AUGUST 8, 2008: Governor Deval Patrick has vetoed H4959, the Association sponsored bill that would have raised the COLA base to $16,000 for state and teacher retirees. Association officials are outraged, after having agreed to what was thought to have been compromise legislation in the final days of the formal legislative session. Under Joint Rules, the House and Senate are not scheduled to reconvene in full formal session again until January, thus ruling out any hope of a 2008 veto override.

GLOBE & HERALD CALL FOR COLA VETO

Association Calls On Members To Act

AUGUST 5, 2008: On Tuesday, both of the Commonwealth’s major daily newspapers had lead editorials urging Governor Deval Patrick to veto legislation that would raise the COLA base for state and teacher retirees. The bill, H4959, was enacted by the Legislature and sent to the governor on Thursday, July 31. It increases the COLA base to $16,000 for those eligible retirees with pensions less than $40,000.

STATE & TEACHER COLA BACK TO GOVERNOR

Legislature Re Approves $16,000 Base

August 1, 2008: In the final hours of the formal 2007-2008 Legislative Session, the House and Senate re approved a new $16,000 COLA base for retired state employees and teachers, including those teachers who are members of the Boston Retirement System. H4959 is now once again before Governor Deval Patrick awaiting his approval. Association officials anticipate that the governor will approve the measure within the coming ten days, which will then take effect retroactively to July 1, 2008.

COLA BASE UPDATE

Proposal Remains in House

JULY 25, 2008: With a less than a week to go before the end of formal legislative activity for the 2007-2008 session on July 31, the Association’s proposal to increase the COLA base to $16,000 remains before the House of Representatives. The COLA increase, which was passed for retired state employees and teachers as part of the FY09 State Budget, was returned to the Legislature by Governor Patrick on July 12, with a counter proposal by the Governor that would limit thenew base to those retirees with pensions less than $40,000.

HOUSE KEY TO STATE/TEACHER COLA INCREASE

JULY 18, 2008: The prospect of an increased COLA base in 2008 for retired state employees and teachers is now in the hands of the House of Representatives. As members may know, last weekend Governor Deval Patrick rejected the $16,000 COLA base language contained in the FY09 State Budget and sent a counter proposal to the Legislature that would limit the new base to those retirees with pensions of less than $40,000. With the Consumer Price Index (CPI) now at 5.7% through June, raising the COLA base has become an even greater concern for retirees on fixed incomes.

COLA ALERT

JULY 15,
2008:
On Sunday, Governor Deval Patrick
signed the FY’09 State Budget into law, which then took effect immediately. The
governor did not approve the $16,000 COLA base for retired state employees and
teachers, the had been included in the legislative section of the budget, as
passed by the House and Senate. Instead, Governor Patrick chose to propose a new
COLA scheme contained in a new section: 12A. This section, if approved, by the
House and Senate, would limit the $16,000 base to retirees with annual pensions
under $40,000. Those with pensions of $40,000 or above would retain a $12,000
base.