Breaking News

PENSION INVESTMENT BOARD ELECTION UNDERWAY

Association’s Paul Shanley Our Choice

paul_shanley.jpgActive and retired members of the State Retirement System have received ballots for a very important election at the State Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board.

STATE GIC SETS 2008 INSURANCE RATES

MARCH 9, 2008: The state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) has approved the insurance rates for Fiscal Year 2009, which begins July 1, 2008. On average, the state-run public retiree and employee healthcare plans will increase 6.4%. Last year, rates increased 3.78% following an average increase of 7.47% in 2006. Each year the GIC has posted increases well below the state and national averages.

SOCIAL SECURITY OFFSETS TAKE NATIONAL TOLL

MARCH 2008: At times, members who have lost part or all of their Social Security benefit to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) or Government Pension Offset (GPO) may feel as if they are alone in their fight to repeal both federal laws.

PATRICK BUDGET: 3% COLA

NO CHANGE IN RETIREE HEALTH INSURANCE CONTRIBUTION

MARCH 2008: There were few surprises when Governor Deval Patrick unveiled his proposed $28.2 billion Fiscal ’09 State Budget and sent it to the Legislature on January 22. The three-percent July ’08 COLA for state and teacher retirees, as promised, was included in his budget. And, as we were earlier informed, the 10% insurance premium contribution for state pensioners, who retired prior to July 1, 1994, and 15% for those who retired after that date, will not change.

RAISE COLA BASE NOW

MARCH 2008: Starting with a special study in 2004, the Association has spent the past four years moving the debate forward on raising the COLA base to a higher level. In 2005, the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) recommended that the COLA base be raised from the current level of $12,000 to a new level of $16,000. The current $12,000 base was established by the Legislature nearly eleven years ago in 1997.

US HOUSE HOLDS KEY HEARING ON WEP/GPO

MARCH 2008: Following through on his commitment to fully examine the potential repeal of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and Government Pension Offset (GPO), US Congressman Michael McNulty (D-NY) chaired a key January hearing that put the spotlight on Social Security reform for public retirees.

STATE'S PENSION FUND EARNED ALMOST 12% IN '07

MARCH 2008: Although the Commonwealth pension fund continued its run of double digit earnings for the fifth straight year in 2007, this January’s market dive raised concern among managers of pension funds everywhere. "Year 2007 was a good one for the State’s PRIT Fund," said Association President Ralph White. "January’s storm clouds were not completely unexpected, but we’ll recover," said the ever-optimistic White.

SOCIAL SECURITY COUNTS TOWARD TAX REBATE

FEBRUARY 14, 2008: Retirees, who have at least $3,000 in earned income for 2007 may be eligible for the federal tax rebate, signed into law by President Bush today. For the purpose of the tax rebate, “earned income” includes earnings from employment, including Social Security. In other words, if a retiree has earned at least $3,000 in 2007, from a job or Social Security, then they may be eligible for the rebate scheduled to be paid in May. Also, in order to qualify for a rebate, a 2007 tax return must be filed with the IRS.

TAX REBATES NOW LAW

FEBRUARY 12, 2008: On Monday President Bush signed the Economic Stimulus Package into law, thus approving the highly anticipated tax rebate. While it is clear that Social Security income can now be counted toward earned income, Association officials are now analyzing the new law and will update members as to its key provisions on Wednesday.

FEDERAL TAX REBATES EYED

JANUARY 28, 2008: Association officials are closely monitoring developments in Washington D.C. relative to the so-called tax rebates now being debated on Capital Hill. The tax rebates are a critical part of a larger Economic Stimulus Package endorsed by President George W. Bush and passed by the US House last week. Now before the US Senate, the proposal is under considerable scrutiny as the details are being worked out.