Negotiations Continue Over FY18 State Budget

Negotiations Continue Over FY18 State Budget

3% State & Teacher COLA Awaits Final Approval

 JULY 6, 2017: Mass Retirees officials are closely monitoring developments on Beacon Hill, where House and Senate Conferees continue to negotiate the final details of the Fiscal Year 2018 State Budget.

Of particular interest to state and teacher retirees is the annual authorization of the COLA. This year the full 3% COLA on a $13,000 base was proposed by Governor Baker, as well as House and Senate Leaders. Assuming the COLA language remains within the final budget, payment to state and teacher retirees can take place as early as late July.

“We do not anticipate any problem with the COLA being approved. The question now is when will it become law,” says President Frank Valeri, who also serves as an elected member of the State Retirement Board. “If the budget becomes law much later than the middle of July it could delay payment until late August. But we hope negotiations move forward and this process wraps up in the near future.”

While it is not unusual for budget negotiations to stretch into early July, the FY18 budget process has been complicated by sluggish tax returns. This has resulted in the need to revise economic projections for the coming year, as well as nearly $500 million less in tax revenue.

Association leaders and public employee unions are also keeping a hopeful eye on the proposal contained within the Senate’s version of the budget that would restructure the state’s Group Insurance Commission. As reported in the July edition of The Voice, the Senate passed a retiree/labor backed proposal that adds 2 labor and 1 retiree seat to the 17-member Commission. The measure also contains a requirement that the GIC conduct public hearings prior to costs being increased upon retirees and active employees.

“Waiting out this process can be frustrating, but it is the way the system has to work. The hardest part is not being able to give clear definitive answers to our members, who are understandably anxious to know the outcome,” explains Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel. “We have been down this road many times before and have come to know what to expect.”