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- October 31 2013Testimony of Michael J. Widmer President, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation Before the Joint Committee on Public ServiceThe Foundation testified on the enormous $46 billion in unfunded retiree health care liabilities facing Massachusetts state and municipal governments.
- September 14 2011In a presentation to PERAC's Emerging Issues Forum and a letter to state senators, the Foundation highlights the urgency of passing legislation to reform the pension system for state and municipal employees.
- January 18 2011
The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation supports the pension reform proposals advanced today by Governor Patrick with Senate President Murray, House Speaker DeLeo and Treasurer-elect Grossman.
- September 24 2010
At a recent forum of the Senate Presidents, MTF President Michael Widmer was one of two national experts participating on a panel on the pension crisis facing most states. Mr. Widmer summarized the factors placing financial pressures on pension plans, the key variables determining long-term costs, and the overriding issues facing state legislative leaders in controlling those costs.
- August 18 2010The Foundation calls on legislators and candidates to address the unsustainable increase in municipal costs of health care and pensions that are leading to layoffs of teachers, police and firefighters and recommends a series of changes that would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually in the short term growing to billions by 2020.
- March 15 2010
Appearing before the Joint Committee on Public Service, MTF President Michael J. Widmer testified in support of the Governor's pension reform bill, which would save an estimated $2 billion over the next 30 years by making modest changes in the pension plan for state and local government employees in Massachusetts. Unless addressed, the escalating and unsustainable costs of pension and health benefits for public employees will lead to the layoffs of thousands of teachers, police, firefighters and other municipal employees across the state in the years ahead.
According to a recent report by the Pew Center on the States, Massachusetts is one of only eight states with more than one-third of its total pension liability unfunded. Many municipal pension plans are in even worse shape; roughly half of the 104 plans have lower funded ratios than the state, and 10 communities are funded below 50 percent.
As a result of the sharp decline in pension assets and the corresponding increase in unfunded liabilities, virtually every city and town is facing a large jump in pension payments in either their fiscal 2011 or 2012 budgets. To address this problem, the Legislature is considering a 10-year extension of the pension payment schedule for municipalities from 2030 to 2040. However, passing an extension of the payment schedule without key reforms that address costs will likely lead to a series of credit downgrades for many municipalities, exacerbating their already difficult financial conditions.