Hearing Held on COLA, Part-Time Work and Option B/C Legislation

Hearing Held on COLA, Part-Time Work and Option B/C Legislation
Mass Retirees CEO Shawn Duhamel Testifies

Public Service Committee Reviewing Proposals

SEPTEMBER 26, 2019: Today, the Joint Committee on Public Service held a public hearing that included five legislative proposals filed by Mass Retirees. All told, the Committee heard testimony on 40 bills during the two-hour hearing.

Mass Retirees proposals included bills relative to the COLA, increasing allowable hours for part-time public sector work by retirees, increasing surviving spouse benefits and recalculating option B & C benefits for those who retired before July 1, 2004. The Association’s testimony was provided by President Frank Valeri and CEO Shawn Duhamel.

Valeri, who highlighted our efforts to increase the COLA base, spoke about the work now being done to create a new enhanced COLA benefit that would be paid in addition to the existing COLA benefit that has been state law since 1997. The focus of an enhanced COLA benefit would be to assist long-term retirees, who have fallen further behind inflation the longer they have been retired.

“When you look at the pensions of those retired fifteen or twenty years ago, they are receiving far less than a more recent retiree. The modest salaries paid twenty years ago produced modest pension benefits and those benefits have not grown with inflation,” explains Valeri. “We are focused on finding a way to create an additional enhanced COLA benefit that would be paid to long-term retirees. Cost analysis is now underway and we hope to be able to unveil a proposal later this fall.”

“We are optimistic that Public Service will look favorably on our bills to increase part-time hours, recalculate Option B & C benefits and also increase the minimum pension for surviving spouses of active employees who pass away before retiring. All three of these bills have been filed in past years. As members know, we were able to get the hour increase all the way to the Governor’s desk last year. He vetoed it after the session ended, so there was no time for an override,” explained Duhamel. “This time around we’re working to move the bill early enough in the session in order to overcome a veto threat, if needed.” 

The Public Service Committee is expected to conduct further review and analysis of all of the bills heard today, before taking further action later this fall. The current formal legislative session runs through July 2020. Senator Mike Brady and Representative Gerald Parisella are the Committee's cochairs.

The following bills are sponsored by Mass Retireesand received a public hearing today:

H.2214 COLA Financing (Cusack)

S.1487 Increase the COLA Base (Crighton)

S.1576 Increase the COLA Base (Pacheco)

S.1536/H.2164 Option D Beneficiaries (Freedman / Ayers)

H.2196 Option B/C Recalculation (Chan)

H.2213 Post Retirement Earnings (Cusack)