According to today's Boston Globe, Gov. Patrick released a plan today in which future state and municipal retirees would have to pay $1,000 more a year for health care coverage:

  • Most public ­employees would have to work until age 60, not 55, before they become eligible for health care benefits
  • Employees would have to accrue 20 years of state or ­local service, up from the current 10.
  • Currently, most state and local workers pay 20 percent of their premiums if they have worked for 10 years... under the governor’s plan, they would have to pay 50 percent of their premiums if they retire after 20 years of service.
  • Only after 30 years of service would the government pick up 80 percent of their premiums, leaving them with 20 percent of the cost.

Why is he taking this step? Because "state and local governments cannot support the $40 billion they face in long-term health care costs." Meaning the taxpayers cannot afford this long term liability!

The Globe reports that the governor’s proposal is a result of a commission consisting of labor and retiree groups as well as state and local officials. This should give it a higher likelihood of passing, but it will doubtless still be an uphill slog so if you support it, let your elected representatives know!

1. Call or email the governor and thank him for taking this step to rein in future liabilities on the taxpayers.

2. Contact your state rep AND your state senator and urge them to support the governor's retiree health care cost reform package!
Governor Deval Patrick deserves credit for the reforms he has championed -- pension reform, municipal health care reform, and reining in police details

However Jim Stergios of the Pioneer Institute points out in last week's Boston Globe that there is still a long ways to go before Massachusetts is on sound financial footing:

"The fact is that the Bay State addressed its billion-dollar-plus structural deficit by pushing off the repayment date for the state’s $18.6 billion unfunded pension liability. In essence, we “refinanced’’ our pension debt by deciding that we will not repay the liability by 2025, instead electing to pay it off 15 years later, by 2040.

"Worse, the pension refinancing scheme killed the tacit agreement among legislators to pay out the pension liability by 2025 so we could begin paying down our other unfunded multibillion-dollar liability - the state’s $15.6 billion liability for health care coverage for retired state employees... The state will now pay billions of extra dollars in the future on the pension liability. That is an unfair burden to place on future generations, just so we can continue spending now."