Mar 26, 2015

MA House Passes Early Retirement Legislation

On March 25, 2015 the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed an early retirement bill that closely mirrored the one filed by Governor Charles Baker earlier this month. 
Rep. John Rogers (D-Norwood) filed an amendment at NAGE’s request, with co-sponsor support from Rep. Paul Heroux (D-Attleboro) and Rep Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) which would have expanded the retirement program to virtually all group 1 state workers, including those in federally and grant-funded positions.
NAGE’s amendment was taken directly from the last early retirement program that was enacted as part of the FY 2004 budget.  That 2004 early retirement program, considered a more comprehensive program than the one the governor proposed recently, passed largely because a narrowly-focused version failed to produce the expected savings in FY 2003.
NAGE’s amendment was the only one discussed on the floor of the House yesterday.  In explaining our shared position, Rep. Rogers said, “I think it is the right thing to do. I think we should afford all our state employees equal protection. The current proposal does not afford equal protection. There is precedent for this amendment, Chapter 26 of the Acts of 2003.” 
Rogers argued that the narrow scope of the bill will not yield the required savings. “My fear is we are repeating history. My fear is that, if we enact without the amendment, that we will not achieve the $179 million [in savings] the governor is seeking to achieve.”
There was also an amendment to expand the early retirement program to group 2 members, but it was withdrawn by its sponsor, Rep Jim O’Day, before being allowed for debate.
What’s next—and how you can help
Although our amendment did not prevail, we have shed light on the concern about moving forward with a narrowly focused bill.  As a result, NAGE leadership will be meeting with the House Chairman of the Public Service Committee next week before a public hearing is held on this bill. That hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 30 at 11:00am in Room A1 of the State House.  The bill will then move to the Senate for consideration.  We encourage members to contact Representatives Rogers, Heroux, and DiZoglio to thank them for standing up for our members:
Rep. Rogers – (617) 722-2092
Rep. Heroux – (617) 722-2430
Rep DiZoglio – (617) 722-2060
We also ask that you please contact your state senator and ask that he/she support expanding the early retirement bill to include all state employees.  The state house switchboard is (617) 722-2000, or you can find your state senator and representative with the “Find A Legislator” button at the top of the Massachusetts Legislature web page

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State House, DeLeo, Baker, Early Retirement Incentive
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