During my recent campaign, I made public employee benefit reform a high priority and, having been reappointed to the Public Service Committee, I’ll be working hard on the issue.
There are seven compelling motivations for seeking public employee benefit reform:
- Rising current costs of benefits (especially health care)
- Deferred costs that will burden future taxpayers (pensions, but especially retiree health care)
- Investment risk that may lead to additional burdens for future taxpayers (mostly pensions)
- Administrative complexity that creates potential for waste and corruption
- Disparity between public and private employees
- Disparities among public employees
- Abuses in the system
There are three fundamental reforms that we need to make in Massachusetts that will go a long way to addressing these concerns:
- Reduce the maximum guaranteed pension benefit, to bring it in line with social security (reduce contributions proportionally).
- Require public retirees, especially those under 65, to contribute more for their health care.
- Give municipal mangers more authority to control plan design.
Elimination of risk and abuse in the pension system requires more complex reforms, but limiting the maximum benefit would help a lot.
Your comments on this issue will be much appreciated. Or you can reach me by phone or email if you prefer. I’m also eager to sit down with groups or individuals who want to have more extended conversation about these issues.