Mayor Of Quincy Proposes $400 Billion Bond To Fund Pension Plan

Link: https://patch.com/massachusetts/quincy/mayor-quincy-proposes-400-billion-bond-fund-pension-plan

Excerpt:

The Mayor of Quincy, Thomas Koch, proposed a bond of $400 billion to city council to fund the entirety of the town’s pension plan. Koch’s proposal for this bond includes changing the way Quincy’s pension liability is paid down. Under the new plan, the pension system would be paid all at once, as opposed to a payment annually which can vary in amounts each year.

Koch claims that this new plan and bond will save the city lots of money each year and set a consistent expectation of expenses for pension payments. Quincy’s pensions and health insurance are the largest fixed costs the city has that change annually, so Mayor Koch wants these issues to be top priorities when it comes to discussing the city budget. The proposal was sent on Monday and city councilors sent it to the council’s finance committee, which has yet to schedule a hearing for the proposal.

Author(s): Colin Ames

Publication Date: 7 March 2021

Publication Site: Patch.com

Mass. sanctions against Iran could be tested

Excerpt:

On August 4, 2010, Massachusetts passed “An Act Relative to Pension Divestment from Certain Companies that Invest in the Republic of Iran.”  The act directs the Massachusetts public pension funds to divest from certain companies “providing goods or services deployed to develop petroleum resources in Iran.”

In an effort to avoid conflict with federal policy, the Massachusetts act has two features.  First, it exempts from state divestment “any company” that the US “affirmatively declares to be excluded from” federal sanctions.  Second, the act has a sunset provision.  The act expires if (1) the US “remov[es] Iran from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and certify[ies] that Iran is no longer pursuing a nuclear capability in violation of its international commitments and obligations,” or (2) the president “declar[es] that [the Massachusetts act] interferes with the conduct of the United States foreign policy.”

The Massachusetts Iran boycott has a long pedigree.  In New England and other colonies, the founding generation considered the boycott of English tea and other products to be a wise alternative to war.  Prior to the Civil War, Massachusetts abolitionists urged private boycotts of Southern goods.  In the 1980s, Massachusetts was one of scores of states and cities to enact divestment and selective purchasing laws regarding South Africa.  In 1996, Massachusetts restricted state purchasing from companies doing business in Burma, though the act was later struck down by the Supreme Court.  Massachusetts today maintains laws restricting state investment or procurement with Sudan, China, and Northern Ireland.

Author(s): Thomas A. Barnico

Publication Date: 24 April 2021

Publication Site: CommonWealth

Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

Graphic:

Excerpt:

COVID-19 vaccination, particularly the disparity of rates between racial and ethnic groups, takes up much of the current talk about the pandemic. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) publishes vaccination data every day, for municipalities, tracking rates by age group, racial and ethnic groups, and by gender.

Pioneer is proud to present a new vaccine tracker, the newest tool in our COVID-19 tracking project. Pioneer distilled the vaccination data down to those who are either fully vaccinated or partially vaccinated, by all the demographic categories published by the DPH. Use the new tool below to compare rates among groups, by municipality and by county. We will update the data every week.

Date Accessed: 20 April 2021

Publication Site: Pioneer Institute

Spring 2021 Meeting: Actuarial Club of Hartford and Springfield

Link: https://actuariesclubofboston.com/Spring-2021-Meeting/

Preliminary Agenda:

Current Schedule:

Week 1
Monday, May 10: (General) Actuarial Transformation: Trends & Insights across Data, Processes, Models, and People

Tuesday, May 11: (Life) Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021: Changes to IRS code Section 7702
Wednesday, May 12: (General/Professionalism) Emerging Professionalism Issues in 2021
Thursday, May 13: (Investments) Macro Economic & Market Update

Thursday, May 13, 4pm EDT: (General) Networking Session
Friday, May 14: (Health) The Role of Behavioral Health‐Now and in the Future

Week 2
Monday, May 17, 9am EDT: (General) Actuaries Working in International Landscape 
Tuesday, May 18: (Health) Health Technology, Consumerism and the Explosion of Telehealth 
Wednesday, May 19: (Pension) New Pension Relief under ARPA: Its Implications for Pension Plans
Thursday, May 20: (Life/Annuities) Mortality Differential by Socioeconomic Categories in the US 
Friday, May 21: (Life/Annuities) Life Reinsurance 101 Panel Discussion 

Date accessed: 6 April 2021

Publication Site: Actuaries Club of Boston

$59 Million Settlement in Pension Plan Outdated Actuarial Assumption Litigation

Link: https://www.natlawreview.com/article/59-million-settlement-pension-plan-outdated-actuarial-assumption-litigation

Excerpt:

A dramatic, recent example of this dilemma occurred in a Massachusetts district court proceeding, when an employer agreed to a $59.17 million settlement in a proposed ERISA class action accusing it of using outdated mortality rates to calculate pensions. Cruz v. Raytheon Co., Mass. Dist. case number 1:19-CV-11425-PBS, Feb. 16, 2021.

The employer had argued in its motion to dismiss that the retirees failed to make the case that the plan violated ERISA by unreasonably using a mortality table created in 1971 and a 7% interest rate to calculate retirees’ alternative annuity benefits it said would be “actuarially equivalent” to the plan’s benefits. The employer argued that its conversion factors for determining the alternative annuity benefits were reasonable and that the retirees were attempting to force their own arbitrary actuarial assumptions. The employer further asserted that under ERISA, employers sponsoring pension plans have wide discretion in determining which actuarial assumptions or conversion factors can be used, requiring only that the single life annuity (SLA) normal form of benefit is equivalent by actuarial standards.

Author(s): Jeffrey D. Mamorsky, Richard A. Sirus, Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Publication Date: 16 March 2021

Publication Site: National Law Review

Study: Graduated Income Tax Proponents Rely on Analyses That Exclude the Vast Majority Of “Millionaires” to Argue Their Case

Graphic:

Excerpt:

“Professor Young’s wealth migration analyses don’t capture the full breadth of tax flight by million-dollar earners,” said Andrew Mikula, co-author of “Missing the Mark on Wealth Migration: Past Studies Drastically Undercounted Millionaires.” “High-net worth households that do financial planning could move to another state before they sell million-dollar assets. They fly under the radar in Cristobal Young’s work because most of them don’t earn more than $1 million in the year before they leave.”

The graduated income tax proposal advanced by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the Service Employees International Union, and other union, advocacy, and religious groups, defines earnings as including salary and capital gains on the sale of assets, which makes net worth a critical component of households subject to the tax.

Publication Date: 25 March 2021

Publication Site: Pioneer Institute

Sooner Or Later, The Supreme Court Will Be Forced To Decide The Tax Future Of 2 Million Workers

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizfarmer/2021/03/18/sooner-or-later-the-supreme-court-will-be-forced-to-decide-the-tax-future-of-2-million-workers/

Excerpt:

New Hampshire and Massachusetts are fighting over whether the Bay State still has the right to tax the incomes of 103,000 former commuters now working from home in New Hampshire. But this tax spat deals with issues that spread far beyond the Massachusetts border — it has national implications and could impact millions of Americans.

Because of this, scores of tax organizations and states have filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Granite State. In fact, an analysis by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation estimated at least 2.1 million Americans that previously crossed state lines for work are now working from home in accordance with public health guidelines.

Author(s): Liz Farmer

Publication Date: 18 March 2021

Publication Site: Forbes

Report Contrasts State Government and Private Sector Employment Changes During Pandemic

Excerpt:

Massachusetts state government employment has been virtually flat during COVID-19 even as employment in the state’s private sector workforce remains nearly 10 percent below pre-pandemic levels, according to a new study published by Pioneer Institute. The study, “Public vs. Private Employment in Massachusetts: A Tale of Two Pandemics,” questions whether it makes sense to shield public agencies from last year’s recession at the expense of taxpayers.

“Compared to restaurants, retailers and other businesses, there was very little pressure on state government to cut costs associated with COVID’s economic fallout,” said Serena Hajjar, who authored the study. “The private sector has felt the bulk of the pain of this contraction.”

At one point in April 2020, total employment in Massachusetts was 23 percent below pre-pandemic levels, while at the same time state-level government employment was higher than it was in February 2020.

Author(s): Editorial Staff (press release)

Publication Date: 15 March 2021

Publication Site: Pioneer Institute

MA State Workers Had More Job Security In Pandemic: Study

Link: https://patch.com/massachusetts/boston/ma-state-workers-had-more-job-security-pandemic-study

Excerpt:

 Job losses during the coronavirus pandemic disproportionately hit the private sector workforce in Massachusetts, according to a Pioneer Institute report being released Monday.

The report found the state government payroll has been flat throughout the pandemic, while the private sector workforce remains 10 percent below its pre-pandemic level. At the peak of job cuts last April, the state’s overall unemployment rate was 23 percent, even as state government employment rose higher than it had been in February 2020.

“Compared to restaurants, retailers and other businesses, there was very little pressure on state government to cut costs associated with COVID’s economic fallout,” said Serena Hajjar, who authored the study for the conservative think tank. “The private sector has felt the bulk of the pain of this contraction.”

Author(s): Dave Copeland

Publication Date: 14 March 2021

Publication Site: Patch

Massachusetts Pension Fund Returns 12.6% in 2020, Hits Record Asset Value

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/massachusetts-pension-fund-returns-12-6-2020-hits-record-asset-value/

Excerpt:

A strong second half rebound helped the Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Trust (PRIT) end calendar year 2020 with a 12.6% return, beating its benchmark’s return of 10.8% and raising the fund to a record high of $86.9 billion in assets, according to Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM), which oversees the fund.

The fund also surpassed its benchmark over the past three, five, and 10 years, with annualized returns of 8.8%, 10.4%, and 8.9%, respectively, compared with 8.0%, 9.5%, and 7.6%, respectively for its benchmark over the same time periods.

Author(s): Michael Katz

Publication Date: 9 February 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

Early retirement offer to Massachusetts teachers wins legislative sponsors

Link: https://www.masslive.com/coronavirus/2021/02/early-retirement-offer-to-massachusetts-teachers-wins-legislative-sponsors.html

Excerpt:

A bill that would allow teachers who are eligible to retire to purchase up to five years of service, age or a combination of the two in order to make room for new teachers has been backed by state Sen. John Velis, D-Westfield, and state Rep. Carol Doherty, D-Taunton.

If approved, the bill known as “An Act to provide a retirement enhancement opportunity to members of the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System,” would be voted on by each city or town’s School Committee before teachers in those communities would be eligible.

Author(s): Elizabeth Román

Publication Date: 18 February 2021

Publication Site: MassLive

Public Pension Roundup: Reform And Regression

Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ebauer/2021/02/19/public-pension-roundup-reform-and–regression/

Excerpt:

Now, generally speaking, when an employer switches from a traditional pension to a defined contribution plan, this means a significant drop in plan benefits for employees. In Florida, that’s not the case — at least nominally not so: the employer contribution rate is the same for either type of plan, and varies only by employment class. (Of course, this doesn’t take into account any additional contributions needed to remedy funded status.) In addition, regular readers will know that I insist whenever the opportunity arises that state and local employees should participate in Social Security just as much as the rest of us do; as it happens, that is already the case for public employees in Florida. In addition, unlike the 8 year vesting of the traditional pension plan, the employer contributions to the defined contribution plan vest after only a year of service.

Author(s): Elizabeth Bauer

Publication Date: 19 February 2021

Publication Site: Forbes