US - Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick has launched a number of pension reform proposals aimed at "closing loopholes, ending abuses and restoring the public's trust in state and municipal retirement systems".
His proposals will be considered in reform legislation being considered in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
He said uncommon and excessive benefits in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority pension system exacerbated the transit agency's finances, which are burdened by $8bn of debt.
He added special perks such as the "23 years and out" rule that allow employees to start receiving a pension earlier than "any reasonable retirement system" should be abolished.
The governor recommended limiting the definition of "regular compensation" to only wages and salary for the purpose of calculating annual benefits, ending the practice of including non-salary items such as housing and transportation allowances and retirement annuities to calculate the benefit.
In addition, Patrick suggested to remove the "one day, one year" provision which currently grants some public employees an entire year of creditable service for as little as one day of work. He said pension credit should be accrued only for actual time employed.
Other proposals include eliminating "dual service" pension enhancements to prohibit public employees from collecting two pensions at the same time as well as eliminating double pensions by changing provisions which allow some employees to qualify for two pensions.
The office of the governor said the Special Commission on Pension Reform charged with examining a broad range of additional issues will hold its first meeting on 31 March.
These issues include dollar limits on pension benefits, disability retirement reforms, other post-retirement benefit changes and system administration improvements.
These proposals come after the New York State Common Retirement Fund announced plans to undertake a number of reforms following the creation of a task force charged with reviewing CRF policies and to avoid improper and unethical practices and corruption (www.globalpensions.com: 11/03/08).
This week's edition of Professional Pensions is out now
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