Latest News

ROMNEY TAKES PARTING SHOT

NOVEMBER 13, 2006: In what can only be seen as a
backhanded parting shot aimed at political opponents, Governor Mitt Romney has
unilaterally cut approximately $32 million from the budget of the state’s Group
Insurance Commission (GIC).

MUNICIPAL HEALTHCARE TRUST FUND BILL ADVANCES

OCTOBER 17, 2006: The House Committee on Ways and Means
has taken a significant step forward in addressing the new accounting standards
that require municipalities, as well as the state, to disclose the future
healthcare costs for their retirees. It has reported out favorably H4887, which
would allow communities to prefund these costs.

PUSH UNDERWAY TO FORCE FLOOR VOTE ON WEP/GPO REPEAL

September 15, 2006 (Washington, D.C.):  Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett has
introduced a resolution (H.RES. 987) to discharge the WEP/GPO Repeal bill (H.R.
147) from the Social Security Subcommittee and have it go to the floor of the
House of Representatives for a vote. Like Massachusetts,
Texas is one of the states whose
public retirees are being hurt by the WEP (Windfall Elimination Provision) and
the GPO (Government Pension Offset).

ANNUAL MEETING DRAWS CROWD

SEPTEMBER 8, 2006: Over 600 members turned out Thursday September 7,
for the Association’s Annual Meeting held in Wakefield. State Treasurer
Tim Cahill and Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) were our guest
speakers, touching on a number of issues of direct importance to
members. Complete details of the meeting, along with a color photo
spread, will be in the November issue of the Voice.

ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING: SEPTEMBER 7

The Annual Meeting of the Retired
State, County and Municipal
Employees Association of Massachusetts will be held on Thursday, September 7, 2006 at 1:00 P.M. at the Sheraton Colonial in Wakefield.
Take Exit 43 off Rt. 128.

Formal Legislation Ends

AUGUST 1, 2006: The
formal session for the 2005-2006 legislative year has drawn to a close with a
flurry of activity by the House and Senate. Of interest to public retirees and
survivors is passage of several provisions related to public retirement.

Romney Vetoes State Insurance Study

July 9, 2006: Special Panel Would Review GIC Plans - Governor Mitt Romney has vetoed language under outside section 104 of the state’s FY07 Budget that would create a special insurance task force charged with completing a comprehensive review of the current insurance benefits offered by the state Group Insurance Commission.

Romney Vetoes State Insurance Funding

July 9, 2006: Those Under 65 Would Pay 25% - Governor Mitt Romney has vetoed language and funding within the FY2007 State Budget that, unless voted down by the Legislature, will raise the insurance contribution rate for some retirees and all active state employees to a 75-25% split, rather than the current 90/10 and 85/15 splits. The move would only impact those retirees insured through the state Group Insurance Commission (GIC) who are under age 65 and not yet enrolled in Medicare.

VETS Bonus / Budget Before Governor

July 1, 2006: As the clock ticked down to the final hours of the current fiscal year, the Legislature enacted the FY 2007 state budget and sent it to Governor Romney for his approval. The governor now has ten days in which to review the budget and take action.

The 3% COLA, based on the first $12,000 of one’s pension, for state and teacher retirees ,who retired prior to July 1, 2005, is contained with the final budget. It will take effect once the budget is signed into law, but will be retroactive to July 1

Committee Releases COLA Base Increase

July 06 - Calls For Extension of Pension Schedules - Public retirees and survivors are on track to receive an increase in the base to which the annual cost-of-living adjustment is applied. In May, the Joint Committee on Public Service favorably released H4940, the Association’s bill to set a new COLA base at the state and local levels.

COLA Update

June 15: All 104 local retirement boards have approved a 3% COLA for retirees and survivors effective this July. Anyone on the pension rolls prior to July 1, 2005 will be eligible for this increase. The House and Senate have approved a July 3% COLA for state and teacher retirees. The $12,000 base will remain in effect for this year, therefore a maximum COLA of $360 per year or $30 monthly.

Investing In Massachusetts

A Winner For State and Pension Fund

MAY 2006 - Under State Treasurer Tim Cahill, the Commonwealth's $41 billion Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board has instituted a successful economically targeted investment (ETI) program. Its purpose is to invest money in Massachusetts that will boost the state's economy and employment while at the same time produce a market rate of investment return for the pension fund (PRIT Fund).

Turnpike Authority Retirement Board

Fully-Funded At Its Creation

MAY 2006 - When the first shovel full of dirt was moved on January 24, 1955, few could fully realize the impact the Turnpike Authority would have on travel across the Commonwealth.

State Property Tax Relief: New Developments

Circuit Breaker Expands Coverage

MARCH 2006 - With rising - and as some say, inflated - real estate values, members have found it more difficult to qualify for the state's property tax relief program, known as the "circuit breaker." Because of a recent change in that law, you may want to take another look and see if you are now entitled to relief.

Pension Investments On A Roll

'05 Was Another Winning Year For Fund

MARCH 2006 - For the third straight year, the Commonwealth's pension investment fund has been a big winner. With a Year 2005 investment return of 12.69%, the fund has again exceeded its benchmark of 8.25% and grown in value to $40.2 billion at year's end - up from $36 billion at the end of 2004.