Patrick Releases Latest Round of Pension Change Proposals

January 19, 2011 ( – Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has announced a new round of changes for the state’s public pension system, including an increased retirement age for all state employees.

A news release said chief among the new set of proposals is an increase in the retirement age for elected officials and most general employees – from the current 55-65 to 60-67. The proposal also includes retirement age increases for employees with hazardous jobs, including police and firefighters.  

The governor’s reform package also eliminates an early retirement incentive that allows those who have reached minimum retirement age to retire before reaching maximum retirement age, as the increase in benefits resulting from additional years of service is less than the benefit of additional years of pension. 

The news release said the proposals also would limit the annual increase in pensionable earnings to no more than 7% of the average pensionable earnings over the last two years plus inflation, and eliminate the right to receive a pension while receiving compensation for service as an elected official. 

Other Pension Change Proposals 

According to the Governor’s news release, the changes also include moves to:

  • Increase scrutiny of legislation benefiting individual employees by requiring such legislation to be accompanied by an actuarial cost estimate, confirmation of the cost analysis from the Public Employees Retirement Commission, and a recommendation from the Retirement Board.
  • Require elected officials to repay the full value of the pension they have received in order to rejoin the system.
  • Require members who rejoin the system or new members eligible to receive creditable service based on work elsewhere to purchase creditable service within one year or pay the full actuarial interest rate.
  • Allow retirement boards to require retirees convicted of a criminal offense related to their employment to repay benefits received since the date of the offense, not just the date of conviction.
  • Establish a special commission to study the Massachusetts public employees' pension classification system. The commission will review and make recommendations for reform regarding the Massachusetts public employees' group classification system, beginning with consideration of the work by the Blue Ribbon Panel on the Massachusetts Public Employees Pension Classification System.
  • Allow retirees who married a person of the same sex within the first year after it became legal to change their retirement option in order to provide a benefit to their spouse.

Patrick asserted in the announcement that the latest round of pension change proposals, along with two earlier proposals, would collectively save taxpayers more than $5 billion in pension costs over 30 years, and $2 billion in retiree health benefit costs for new employees over the next 30 years.

“We have committed to fix what’s broken in state government. That’s why, in partnership with the legislature, we enacted long-awaited reforms in ethics, transportation, education and state pensions,” said Patrick, in the announcement.

The Patrick announcement is here.