G ardner Auditorium in the State House was packed on Oct. 31 with public employees, state
and municipal leaders, retirees and
legislators testifying for and against
House 59, the governor’s bill to reduce
the unfunded liability for retiree
health insurance by changing certain
eligibility requirements and increasing
the health insurance premium share
paid by some future retirees.
Governor Deval Patrick’s bill
is based on the recommendations of
a special commission co-chaired by
former MTA President Anne Wass that
concluded the current level of benefits is
unsustainable. The projected unfunded
liability for retiree health insurance
is $30 billion for municipalities
and another $16 billion for the
Commonwealth over the next 30 years.
“I’m here to say that we support
the recommendations, but we want
to work with you to improve upon
this bill,” MTA President Paul Toner
testified at the hearing, which was
held by the Joint Committee on Public
Toner and others said they
recognize that the magnitude of
the unfunded liabilities could lead
to future member layoffs, cuts in
education services and reductions in
benefits to retirees. Toner stated that
the MTA’s goal is to protect current
employees, those close to retirement
and long-term public employees.
The legislation based on the
recommendations made by the special
commission meets these goals, Toner
said, but the MTA would like to see
changes made that would address
He outlined three areas in which
the MTA hopes the Legislature will
consider improvements in H. 59 to
protect MTA members who could
be adversely affected by the bill’s
eligibility requirements due to the
nature of their jobs. The areas involve:
n Vocational/technical education
teachers, who are often hired in
middle age after they have significant
experience in their trades.
n Higher education faculty, who
are often hired later in life because
it takes them many years to obtain
n Education support
professionals, if they work in a
municipality that only gives them
credit for 10 months of work each
year, thus making it significantly more
difficult for them to become eligible
for retiree health benefits.
A wide range of views was
expressed by others who testified at the
crowded hearing, including some who
argued that the governor’s bill goes
too far in cutting benefits and others
who claimed it does not go far enough.
Glen Shor, secretary of administration
The audience pays close attention during a hearing on legislation that would affect health benefits for retirees.
Photo by Laura Barrett
Please turn to Bill/Page 23
The Standard of Excellence In Teacher Preparation
At the Graduate School
of Education, you can:
• Become an elementary or secondary school teacher.
• Take advantage of our part-time Initial licensure secondary education
program if you are teaching with a Preliminary License.
• Continue your professional development through an advanced
• Gain principal licensure through our newly approved online
• Join one of our three research-focused doctoral degree programs.
For more information, visit www.uml.edu/education or
Test drive graduate study by
taking a course this fall —
before you apply.
UMass Lowell’s Graduate School of
Education is NCATE accredited. Courses
are convenient and flexibly scheduled.
U.S. News and World Report ranks
UMass Lowell among the top 200
national universities and among the
top 100 public campuses in the country.
For more information, visit
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Graduate School of Education
61 Wilder St., O’Leary 510
Lowell, MA 01854-3098
GSE Ad 8. 13_Layout 1 8/1/13 2:57 PM Page 1