On the cusp of what is traditionally the August legislative recess, the Joint Committee on Public Service has scheduled a public hearing this coming Tuesday (7/25/23) at 1PM. We have six Mass Retirees sponsored bills scheduled to be heard.

However, before I get into the specifics of the legislation scheduled to be heard, let me first provide another update on the local acceptance of the additional 2% COLA in the previous fiscal year (FY23, which ended on June 30, 2023). This week we received confirmation that the additional benefit received final approval by the Town of Danvers and Worcester County! This added benefit will be paid retroactive to July 1, 2022.

To be clear: Members of the Teachers’ Retirement System and the State Retirement System already received this additional benefit in August 2022 – paid retroactively to July 1, 2022. However, the added 2% benefit was a local option across the 102 local retirement systems.

If you are unclear is to which retirement system you belong, please click here for a report on this very topic that we published two weeks ago.

I should also point out, once again, that the 5% COLA paid in FY23 was a one-time benefit designed to help alleviate some of the pressure of high inflation. The COLA for the new fiscal year (FY24) is once again 3%. As always, the COLA percentage is applied to the COLA base for each retirement system.

All 102 local retirement systems have approved the 3% COLA for FY24, which means that the increase will appear in the July pension check of all eligible retirees. In order to be eligible for a COLA, you must be retired for one full fiscal year.

The 3% COLA on a $13,000 base for members of the State and Teachers’ Retirement Systems is contained within the FY24 State Budget, which remains before a House/Senate conference committee. While the COLA is not a point of disagreement between the two legislative branches, the benefit cannot be paid until the budget is passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor. Once that occurs, the State/Teacher COLA will be paid retroactively to July 1, 2023.

In terms of Tuesday’s hearing, the general topics include “Pensions and Retirement Boards”. Nancy McGovern, Tom Bonarrigo, and I will testify on the six bills as a panel. Public hearings present the opportunity to publicly make our case as to why a bill should be acted upon favorably. There have been times in the past when we have testified in opposition to bills that we believed to be harmful to public retirees.

The Public Service Committee is chaired by State Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) and State Senator Mike Brady (D-Brockton). You can watch the hearing live by clicking here.

Of the 46 bills being heard, 6 were filed by our Association. The proposals are as follows:

H2625: Estimated First Pension Payment
S1678: Increases minimum survivors pension from $6,000 to $9,000 annually
S1753 / H2626: Increases the maximum veterans bonus from the current $300 a year (set in 1957) to $1,000
H2475: Option B & C recalculation for those retiring prior to July 1, 2004 and chose Option B or C as a benefit option
H2542: Grants the right for surviving spouses, who are receiving a retirement benefit, to vote in retirement board elections

For those not familiar with the legislative process, decisions on what action to take on a particular proposal are not made at the public hearing. The committee chairs and members will decide what action to take on each bill at a later date.

If you are personally interested in one of the bills being heard next week, please take a moment to contact your local State Rep. and Senator to ask for their support. You can also submit written testimony to the Committee by clicking here.

One final note on the way out. Next week, we hope to provide an update on pension fund earnings for the first 6 months of 2023. While we are still waiting for officials reports, it does appear that returns have been positive thus far in 2023.

With great appreciation,


Shawn Duhamel
Chief Executive Officer
Mass Retirees Association

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