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KERRY FILES WEP/GPO REPEAL BILL

KERRY FILES WEP/GPO REPEAL BILL

Takes Lead In Senate With Maine’s Collins

JANUARY 10, 2012: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry has filed legislation calling for the full repeal of the dreaded Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO). S2010, cosponsored by Republican Susan Collins of Maine, places Kerry in a leading role on the issue of Social Security fairness.

The big squeeze

It has been more than three decades since Proposition 2½ became the law of the land here in the commonwealth, but there is no question that the last few years have been the hardest on municipalities. A combination of shrinking revenue on the federal, state, and local levels has met up with a near-record growth in the costs of health care and pension funds. The result is a bleak present and, in all likelihood, a dimmer foreseeable future.

Health agency names 5 ‘Pioneer’ accountable care organizations in Mass.

Boston Globe

December 20, 2011

Massachusetts is set once again to become a testing ground for a major federal effort to overhaul the health care industry.

Five of the 32 hospital systems and physician groups that will become “pioneers” in a program to change how doctors are paid for the care they provide Medicare patients are from eastern Massachusetts. Starting Jan. 1, the federal program will give them a budget to care for their more than 150,000 patients, rather than a payment for each test or treatment.

MORE MUNICIPALITIES EYE INSURANCE CHANGES

Heavy Activity on Cape Cod, South Shore and Nashoba Valley

DECEMBER 19, 2011: As 2012 approaches, the number of municipalities eyeing changes to their local health insurance plans is rapidly growing. In the past two weeks alone, the Association has had requests from 18 separate local entities seeking a retiree representative to the local Public Employee Committee (PEC).

Fiscal woes at peak for towns

HOLLISTON - The problem

Thanks to a flagging economy, the last two years have been the most financially difficult for Bay State towns and cities in 30 years, according to a report by the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Statewide, municipal budgets grew by a combined 1.2 percent in fiscal 2010 and 2011, a new two-year low, the report said. Property taxes increased 3.8 percent statewide last fiscal year, the smallest one-year increase since Proposition 2½ began capping property tax increases in 1982.

Municipal budgets most stressed since ’80, report says

Boston Globe

State aid cuts, lack of growth are cited

December 7 2011: Cash-strapped cities and towns across Massachusetts are struggling with the worst stress on their budgets since passage of Proposition 2 1/2 in 1980, according to a new report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

STATE & TEACHER PENSIONS NOW AVAILABLE FOR ALL TO SEE

DECEMBER 6, 2012: If you are a retired state employee or teacher, the amount of your pension and former agency or workplace is now on the state-run “Open Checkbook” website available to anyone with a computer.

Many Workers in Public Sector Retiring Sooner

NT Times

MADISON, Wis. — As states and cities struggle to resolve paralyzing budget shortfalls by sending workers on unpaid furloughs, freezing salaries and extracting larger contributions for health benefits and pensions, a growing number of public-sector workers are finding fewer reasons to stay.

MEMBERS CAN RENEW 2012 DUES ONLINE

Member Management System Launched

NOVEMBER 28, 2011: For the convenience of our members, the Association is pleased to now offer the option for members to renew their annual Association dues online through a secure website portal. Members wishing to utilize this new feature should click here to proceed.

Many healthy returns

Boston Herald

Back when Beacon Hill was considering reforms to the way cities and towns design health plans for their workers, we were warned by public employee unions that the end of the world was nigh. Turns out, not so much.

RETIREMENT BOARD MEMBER RECEIVED MAYOR'S PROCLAMATION ON MONTH PRIOR TO DEATH

RETIREMENT BOARD MEMBER RECEIVED MAYOR'S PROCLAMATION ON MONTH PRIOR TO DEATH

NOVEMBER 27, 2011: On October 28, 2011, Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday proclaimed Franklin J.( Buddy) Spaulding Day in the City of Newburyport. The proclamation was issued in recognition of Buddy’s 26 years of service on the Newburyport Retirement Board.  The proclamation was issued just one month prior to his death on November 23, 2011.

PENSION REFORM III NOW LAW

Chapter 176 Marks Sweeping Change

NOVEMBER 21, 2011:  As expected, late last Friday, November 18, Governor Deval Patrick signed Pension Reform III into law as Chapter 176, Acts of 2011.

The measure, which had been enacted in the House and Senate three days earlier, creates a new retirement plan for new employees of our 105 retirement systems, hired on or after next April 2nd.

Rhode Island adopts sweeping changes to pension system

PROVIDENCE - Despite jeers and the threat of a union lawsuit, Rhode Island lawmakers approved extensive changes yesterday to one of the nation’s most underfunded public pension systems.

The state’s heavily Democratic General Assembly defied its traditional union allies to pass the landmark changes.

NEW PENSION LAW ADOPTED

Effective For New Hires Beginning Next April

NOVEMBER 15, 2011: Pension Reform III (S2065) is now on the verge of becoming law. By a vote of 27-10 in the Senate and 152-0 in the House, today the Legislature enacted a change in the Commonwealth’s public retirement law that will place new employees in a “second tier” retirement plan.

Effective next April 2, all new hires within our state’s 105 retirement systems will close the door on early retirement and require most workers to stay in the system until age 67 in order to reach a full pension.

Lawmakers approve Mass. pension bill

Boston Globe

BOSTON—The Massachusetts Legislature has approved an overhaul of the state's pension system that would raise the minimum retirement age for future state employees to 60.

The compromise bill was accepted Tuesday by the Senate on a 27-10 vote and later on a 149-0 vote in the House.

PENSION BILL IMPACTS RETIREMENT SYSTEMS

Legislation Contains Governance Reforms

NOVEMBER 7, 2011:  Pension reform legislation, now before a House & Senate Conference Committee, not only contains significant changes to retirement benefits for future employees, but also to the administration and governance of the Commonwealth’s 105 retirement systems.

HOUSE PASSES PENSION REFORM 3

COLA Base Increase & Retiree Benefits Included

NOVEMBER 4, 2011: Phase III of Pension Reform has now passed the House with a unanimous vote to further alter the public pension benefit structure for future employees. In addition to future benefit changes (affecting those first hired on or after July 1, 2012), the House plan seeks a series of benefit enhancements for current retirees.

REVISED BENEFIT STRUCTURE FOR NEW HIRES

House Looks To Reward Career Employees At 30 Years

NOVEMBER 4, 2011: A key component of the Pension Reform bill (H3787), passed by the House this past week, is the creation of a new retirement formula for those employees hired on or after July 1, 2012. Like the Senate, the House has also increased the full retirement age by 2 years for each group (67/62/57).

2012 MEDICARE PART B RATES ANNOUNCED

Monthly Premium of $99.90 Begins in January

OCTOBER 28, 2011: The federal government has announced that the standard Medicare Part B premium for 2012 will be $99.90 per month. Under the Medicare program, eligible retirees are responsible for 25% of the total cost of Part B, with the federal government subsidizing the remaining 75%.

Medicare Part B Premiums for 2012 Lower Than Projected

Medscape Medical News

October 28, 2011 — More prudent use of medical services and tougher competition among healthcare providers has slowed the growth of Medicare spending, allowing for Part B premiums to be lower than projected, federal health officials said yesterday.

Arlington, Medford, Somerville, Wakefield Move To Gic

Retirees Must Chose Plan By October 26

OCTOBER 21, 2011: Open enrollment is now underway for retirees, survivors and active employees from the towns of Arlington, Medford, Somerville and Wakefield, communities that will join the state’s Group Insurance Commission on January 1, 2012.

Members from these communities only have until Wednesday, October 26, 2011 to chose which GIC insurance plan to enroll. Those, who miss the enrollment deadline, will no longer have health insurance coverage after the January 1 transfer date.

Social Security Beneficiaries to Receive 3.6% Increase

Fifty-five million Social Security beneficiaries will receive a 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment next year, the U.S. government said today.

The COLA increase, the first since 2009, takes effect in January. Eight million Americans participating in the Supplemental Security Income program, which provides cash assistance to the blind and disabled poor, will receive the same 3.6 percent boost.

RETIREMENT BOARDS TO CONVENE

RETIREMENT BOARDS TO CONVENE

Scibak Will Be Guest Speaker

OCTOBER 7, 2011: The Mass. Association of Contributory Retirement Systems (MACRS) will hold its fall conference this
October 16-19 at the Sheraton Springfield Hotel.

Officials and staff of our state's 105 retirement boards representing all of the Commonwealth's retirement systems will tackle an agenda that is headed by "Pension Reform" the Governor's top priority bill (S2018) which is expected to be enacted by the Legislature within the next month.

HOUSE EYES MID-OCTOBER PENSION REFORM DEBATE

Increased State & Teacher COLA Base Considered

SEPTEMBER 29, 2011: House leaders are eyeing mid-October to begin debate on the latest proposal to further reform the state's defined benefit pension plan. Earlier this month the Senate overwhelmingly passed S2018, which would bring about major changes to retirement benefits of employees hired after January 1, 2012.

Some reform is better than none at all

Newburyport News Editorial

Bottom line for the pension reform bill currently before the Legislature: Since changes would affect only those hired into government service after Jan. 1, 2012, anyone offered employment with the state who felt they could get a better deal elsewhere would be free to turn the job down.