Senate approves shakeup of Mass. pension system

Associated Press | 9/21/2011, 12:37 a.m.

“The rating agencies in New York don’t care where we get the money,” Donnelly said. “They did not tell us we had to take it from our future employees.”

The bill does increase the base amount for calculating cost-of-living increases from $12,000 to $13,000, for current and future workers. It has not been raised since 1998. The state contributes 2.7 percent to the public pension fund, and public workers have one of the highest contribution rates in the country.

Lawmakers in the Senate said they were not happy about the overhaul, but felt it was necessary in the ever weakening economy.

“These are unpleasant exercises. It’s not always easy to do these things, but the world is changing,” said Sen. Stephen Brewer, D-Barre, the Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

Ray McGrath, a lobbyist for the International Brotherhood of Police and the National Association of Government Employees, said the overhaul was not necessary because the pension system has been changed many times over the past decade. Lawmakers are not considering the positive results of those changes.

“It’s an attempt to provide some political cover for people to say they are doing something different,” he said. Changing the benefit plans for future employees could hurt the state in the long run, McGrath said. 

“We now have just created a two-tier system. Those who work today and those who work for the future in public service both on the state and local level,” he said.

Associated Press