In The News: Pensions

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SouthCoast pensions receive poor marks in new rankings

Jul 21 2013

By Matt Camara, SouthCoast Today

Taxpayers already feel the effects of underfunded pensions every time a librarian position is cut or hours are slashed at a government office, said Michael J. Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "These are obligations we're not paying for," Widmer said Friday, adding that taxpayers are already seeing the "gradual effects."
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Public pension funds in Mass. get failing grades

Jul 17 2013

By Beth Healy, The Boston Globe

he pension systems peaked in funding progress in 2000, with $18 billion in unfunded liabilities, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. That sum has doubled in 12 years, to $36 billion, said Carolyn Ryan, a policy analyst with the group. Programs like early retirement incentives have cut short-term costs but added to long-term liabilities, she said.
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Labor boss pledges to close jobless benefits loopholes

Nov 15 2012

By John Zaremba, Boston Herald

The task force included Goldstein, two mayors, two lawmakers, two union heads, a retired judge and the president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. Several of the panel’s recommendations — such as cutting off jobless pay to pensioners and going after abusers’ tax returns — will require legislation.
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Gaming the system in Massachusetts

Nov 15 2012

By Stephen Walsh, The Examiner

The task force, which includes Goldstein, union heads, mayors, a retired judge and President of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation Michael J. Widmer , are releasing several recommendations today to curb abuse.
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School chiefs find way past pension law

Jul 7 2012

By Deirdre Fernandes, The Boston Globe

Still, said Michael Widmer, the president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, ­superintendents already ­receive generous state pensions because of their high salaries. The cost to taxpayers of the new superintendents contracts may not be significant, since the number of superintendents is limited, but the appearance is of an “end run” around pension reform efforts, Widmer said.
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Up to 5 percent of municipal employees make $100,000 or more

May 27 2012

The Boston Globe

Yet it is useful for taxpayers to keep an eye on high public salaries, said Carolyn Ryan, policy analyst at the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “It is always good to look at salary information in detail, because the bulk of local government money — two-thirds to three-quarters of spending — is driven by personnel costs for police, fire, education,” Ryan said.

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Unfunded retirement benefits a 'time bomb' set to explode for Lowell-area communities

May 7 2012

By Evan Lips, The Lowell Sun

According to a Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation study released in February 2011, Billerica ranks 36th statewide in total pension and post-employment benefits, or OPEB, provided to employees, adding up to $307.34 million. Reached last week, MTF President Michael Widmer said the totals are likely higher since towns only have to gather the information once every two years.

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How Retirement Benefits May Sink the States

Apr 27 2012

By Steven Malanga, The Wall Street Journal

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation examined unfunded retiree health-care liabilities in 10 midsize municipalities, including Worcester and Springfield, and found the debt averaged $13,685 per household. To pay those commitments over 30 years would require adding $565 a year to property tax bills on average, the group estimated. In one community, Lawrence, the tab was $1,209 annually, a 50% increase over current taxes.
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Provision lets Westford unions reopen contracts

Dec 19 2011

By Sarah Favot, The Lowell Sun

Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said agreeing to reopener clauses is a "dangerous practice" for municipalities, although he couldn't comment specifically on Westford's contracts. "It's a risky proposition for any community, especially in this era with very tight budgets," he said. "It just makes it more difficult to manage your compensation costs."
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Legislature earns good mid-term productivity grade

Nov 23 2011

By Jon Chesto, GateHouse News Service

Municipal health insurance: Widmer sees the big change in municipal health insurance as a much more effective and immediate way to achieve cost savings than the pension reform. It also showed that the Democrats who rule Beacon Hill aren't always ruling at organized labor's behest. The new law gives cities and towns plenty of flexibility to scale back generous health plans, without offering any less than what's available to state employees. Widmer says he believes the savings have already exceeded the early estimates of $100 million a year. That's money that can be used to protect the jobs of teachers, police and firefighters.
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