Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick last week signed into law pension reform legislation that aims to close loopholes and end abuses of the state’s retirement benefits.
The initiative ends a practice of allowing elected officials to claim an entire year of service for working one day in a calendar year and ends a “termination allowance” if an elected official does not gain reelection or re-nomination.
“Today, we make good on a promise to the public to restore trust in government,” Patrick said in a press release. “I am proud to be standing alongside Senate President Therese Murray and [House] Speaker Robert DeLeo and commend the legislature for taking this critical step to eliminate the abuses and gamesmanship that for too long have threatened the system’s credibility and ultimate sustainability for all public workers.”
The legislation applies to current and future employees. Under the new law, compensation will exclude certain benefits such as housing or vehicle usage in calculating pension benefits. In addition, pension recipients will not be allowed to return to state work and receive a full salary for consultant or independent contractor work, among other reforms.
Additional retirement benefit changes may be coming. The Special Commission on Pension Reform is also examining placing dollar limits on benefits, changing disability retirements, and implementing system administration improvements. The commission will present a broader pension system overhaul plan by Sept. 1.