ON BLACK HISTORY MONTH,
PLEASE VISIT THE
FOLLOWING LINK ON
THE MTA WEBSITE:
Governor Deval Patrick is expected to file legislation during the current session based on the recommendations of a special
commission he appointed to analyze the impact of
unfunded retiree health insurance liabilities on state
and local budgets.
The commission recommended reducing
benefits for certain short-term employees, but
also recommended protecting benefits for current
retirees, long-serving employees and current
employees who are near retirement.
Under current law, someone who works in
the public sector for 10 years in Massachusetts
is entitled to full health benefits upon retirement.
Under the new proposal, benefits in the future
would be provided to those who work in the public
sector for at least 20 years, though most current
employees nearing retirement who have worked for
less than 20 years would be granted full or partial
The commission was co-chaired by former MTA
President Anne Wass and included representatives
of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the Massachusetts
Retirees Association and the Massachusetts
Municipal Association, as well as appointees
from the legislative and administrative branches.
Only the MMA representative voted against the
recommendations, contending they did not give
municipalities enough power to cut benefits further.
The state provided the commission with data
demonstrating that the unfunded retiree health
insurance liability for state and local governments
totals more than $46 billion — $16.7 billion for state
and $30 billion for municipalities — over the next
30 years. That is more than the unfunded pension
The MTA hired an actuary and a benefits
consultant, both of whom confirmed the figures
provided by the state.
Unlike they do for the pension system,
employees do not contribute to retiree health
insurance, so paying the benefit has a direct impact
on the ability of state and local governments to fund
services and pay salaries of active employees.
“The labor and retiree representatives on
the commission and our own analysts agreed that
the size of the unfunded liability poses a threat to
members’ jobs, salaries and benefits in the future,”
said MTA President Paul Toner.
“But we also know that retiree health insurance
is a very important benefit for our members and
must be safeguarded,” he continued. “As is the case
with pension reform, our focus is on providing the
best benefits to long-term employees. The labor
representatives on the commission spoke with
one voice in strongly recommending preservation
of benefits for current retirees, those nearing
retirement and those who have devoted many years
to public service.”
Details about the recommendations and a
link to the full report of the commission can be
found at www.massteacher.org/news/archive/2013/
‘As is the case with pension
reform, our focus is on
providing the best benefits
to long-term employees.
The labor representatives
on the commission spoke
with one voice in strongly
of benefits for current
retirees, those nearing
retirement and those who
have devoted many years to
—MTA President Paul Toner
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