Latest from Mass Retirees
3% For Most Retirees & Survivors
JULY 18, 2014: With the approval of a 3% COLA for state and teacher retirees contained in the FY15 budget signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on July 11, members can be assured of receiving a new COLA payment in their July pension check. The state has maintained the COLA base at $13,000, thus setting the maximum annual COLA at $390.
July 15, 2014: With a growing number of members now using the internet, the Association is expanding our online services. In addition to our website (www.massretirees.com), we are now emailing electronic updates and breaking news alerts to those members using email. We also place weekly updates and other unique features on our website, that are in addition to our award winning newsletter and toll-free hotline. And for those members seeking electronic payment options, we offer dues renewal through our website.
July 2014 Voice: We’ve all seen the steady stream of headlines and heard the sound bites declaring public pension systems a disaster, unsustainable or a failure. To the average citizen these are examples of bloated entitlement programs run amuck. For public retirees, these reports portray a nightmare scenario in which their retirement security is in jeopardy.
July 2014 Voice: Retired teachers and municipal employees will receive a two-year reprieve from increased health insurance contribution percentage rates due to a provision contained within the FY15 state budget. The law extends the same protection to municipal retirees that has been long afforded to state retirees.
July 2014 Voice: Throughout our Association’s 46-year history we have maintained a policy of supporting public officials and candidates for office who have a record of supporting public retirees. The criteria for receiving our endorsement are simple: Support and stand with public retirees through actions – not words or promises of future support.
We are proud to endorse Deb Goldberg of Brookline for the office of State Treasurer and Receiver General.
July 2014 Voice: Earlier this year we reported that our Association had launched a new approach toward reforming Social Security’s Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).
The Retired, State, County and Municipal Employees Association of Massachusetts announced its unanimous endorsement of Steve Kerrigan for lieutenant governor, noting that the former longtime aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy is the right person to help lead Massachusetts forward.
The endorsement comes on the heels of Kerrigan’s victory at the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention in June. The former Lancaster selectman won the most support among the four candidates for lieutenant governor.
JUNE 30, 2014: House and Senate budget negotiators reached an agreement on the Commonwealth’s $36.4 billion fiscal 2015 budget over the weekend. The measure will be approved by both the House and Senate, and then sent to Governor Patrick later today.
JUNE 20, 2014: “In our July 2014 issue of the Voice, we included an article reporting on the Association’s successful enactment in 1984 of a law that prohibited a bank from imposing any fee or assessment on a checking or savings account of a person 65 or over,” according to Publisher Nancy Delaney. “We termed it the "Bank Fee Waiver Law".
JUNE 13, 2014: At its monthly meeting held today, the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) announced that enrollment in the retiree-pay-all dental program increased by some 2,300 retirees for Fiscal Year 2015, which begins July 1.
Now entering its 11th year of existence, the retiree dental program is not only a great success story for the GIC, but also for our Association. The program was created at the behest of our Association in 2003 and has grown to nearly 27,000 enrollees.
JUNE 6, 2014: Following the passage of the Fiscal Year 2015 budget in both the House and Senate, legislative conferees are now negotiating a final unified state budget that will likely receive final approval in late June or early July.
MAY 20, 2014: State Senators will begin debate on the FY15 budget beginning Wednesday morning. The debate, which is expected to last at least three days, will determine the Senate’s version of the state budget for the coming year.
Of utmost importance to our Association is amendment #89, filed by Senator Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington). Senators McGee, Lewis, Moore, Keenan and DiDomenico have signed onto the amendment as cosponsors.
MAY 2014 VOICE: Members, who are state and municipal retirees receiving their health insurance through the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC), received welcome good news in March – health insurance premiums for FY15 will remain largely unchanged.
MAY 2014 VOICE: For the past three years, retired teachers and municipal workers have been protected from unfair increases in health insurance premium contribution percentages. Alarmingly, the legal protection expires on July 1, 2014!
Association officials are calling on the legislature to extend the retiree protection for two-years, through July 1, 2016.
MAY 2014 VOICE: This winter, Association President Frank Valeri and Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel met with members of the Massachusetts’ Congressional Delegation in Washington, DC.
Valeri and Duhamel were in the nation’s capital to attend the annual Legislative Conference of the National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS), to which the Association belongs. They met with the offices of all nine members of Congress, as well as Senior Senator Elizabeth Warren.
MAY 2014 Voice: Information recently obtained from the both the National and State Associations of Funeral Directors has brought renewed focus on our Association’s proposal to increase basic life insurance for state retirees and employees to $10,000.
MARCH 2014 VOICE: Year 2013 was cause for a modest celebration at the Commonwealth’s giant Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board, chaired by State Treasurer Steve Grossman.
A strong market year saw PRIM’s Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) Fund earn 15.2%, and finally climb back and exceed its pre-Year 2008 value with a new high of $57.9 billion at year’s end.
MARCH 2014 VOICE: Governor Deval Patrick and the state’s Legislative Leadership have agreed to significantly increase the appropriation toward funding the Commonwealth’s unfunded pension liabilities, along with shortening the pension funding schedule by four years and adopting a more conservative set of assumptions.
MARCH 2014 VOICE: Former Association President Ralph White was elected to a new three-year term on the State Retirement Board effective this January. This will be his sixth three-year term.
Unlike his 2001 election when he was unopposed, White had three opponents in this latest election. They were Thomas Mullage, a contract manager at Lemuel Shattuck Hospital; Christine Turner, A UMass Amherst Librarian and executive board member of the MTA Society of Professors; and Randy Azzato, a former director with the Department of Correction.
MARCH 2014 VOICE: For some time, we’ve seen where the formula for calculating Social Security COLA (Cost-of-Living-Adjustment) benefits has been under attack as being too generous. Now there is push back against this criticism, with calls by some officials, most notably our senior US Senator Elizabeth Warren, to improve Social Security’s COLA.