From the Media

RI Judge to review pension deal with city workers

Boston Globe June 26, 2012: A lawyer representing city retirees in Providence is expected to tell a judge they have approved a deal freezing automatic pension hikes and restructuring health benefits — a victory for Mayor Angel Taveras that is expected to keep the state capital out of municipal bankruptcy. Joseph Penza, a lawyer who represents about 1,300 municipal retirees, said he plans to present the results of the retirees’ vote to Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter on Tuesday.

Mass. needs more realistic goal for pension fund returns

Boston Globe Editorial, June 24, 2012

In some ways, lowering expectations for returns on the state’s pension fund investments is an easy call. Current state law requires the Massachusetts pension board to assume an 8.25 percent annualized rate of return, but in recent years that has come to seem too optimistic. Massachusetts needs to start stepping its pension expectations down — but in a deliberate way, to limit the impact on government agencies that will need to contribute more.

On pensions, Boston should avoid extra annual hike

Boston Globe Editorial, June 24, 2012:

Boston considers hike in retirees’ pensions

By Andrew Ryan,
Globe Staff

June 18, 2012: As cities and states across the nation take aim at public employee pensions, Boston City Hall is engaged in a very different debate: how much to increase retirees’ checks.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is proposing to boost the annual cost-of-living adjustment for most pensioners from $360 to $390, a $30 increase. City Council president Stephen J. Murphy is pushing for more, seeking a $90 increase over the current rate.

State error delays teachers’ benefits

JUNE 1, 2012: State Treasurer Steven Grossman has launched an internal investigation after an ­error by his office delayed benefits payments to about 53,000 retired teachers.

The problem, which affected 92 percent of retired educators whose Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System benefits are electronically deposited into their bank accounts, has been rectified, but the deposits may not go through until Friday, Grossman said.

Insurers, flexibility, and savings

By Steven Syre
Globe Columnist  
March 30, 2012

The most interesting social experiments start with one basic question: What does it take to make people change the way they do something important?

Health insurance companies doing business in Massachusetts are wrestling with that question right now. They are rolling out all kinds of new medical insurance products, trying to figure out what kinds of limits and restrictions people are willing to accept in order to save money on their premiums.

Group: Localities saved $80 million after curbing benefits

Boston Globe
March 20, 2012

A taxpayer group said Monday that Massachusetts cities and towns have saved $80 million on health care since the state enacted a controversial law last year that forced teachers, firefighters, and other municipal employees to give up some of their collective bargaining rights.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded watchdog that advocated for the law, said in its report that the overhaul was likely to save more than the $100 million annually that had initially been projected by the group.

Municipal Health Care Savings Continue to Climb

MARCH 19, 2012: Massachusetts cities and towns have reached nearly $80 million in first-year savings from municipal health care reform and are on pace to exceed by far the initial estimate of $100 million, according to the most recent data compiled by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Gov. Cuomo’s Pension Proposal

Editorial

Across New York State, years of generous and sometimes overly generous benefits have made government pensions unaffordable. Thanks to contract sweeteners and giveaways by Albany politicians, New York City’s pension costs have risen more than fivefold, to $8 billion this year from $1.3 billion in 2002. Other communities are in similarly tough straits.

The elderly should share the burden

By Robert J. Samuelson
Washington Post

One hallmark of the Obama administration’s budget policy has been to exempt the elderly from major cuts, even though spending on the elderly — mainly through Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — represents 40 percent or more of the budget. The main reason is political: The elderly (it’s presumed) would vote against politicians who would cut their benefits. But to justify the policy, politicians and others often portray the elderly as financially vulnerable with scant savings.