Pension editorial missed on the facts
To the editor:
The Eagle-Tribune’s editorial of Aug. 25 titled, “Pension shortfalls threaten municipal solvency”, has no basis in fact and law. The Eagle-Tribune newspaper has a distinct bias against the many hard-working public employees. The editorial claims that local officials have promised public employees pensions. The Eagle-Tribune gets its information from the Pioneer Institute, a Boston public policy think tank. The Eagle-Tribune does not discuss who funds Pioneer Institute, and who established the organization.
Public employers do not set pension standards, the General Court has established the pension law by the legislative process. The Eagle-Tribune printed, “The problem stems ‘from a promise them anything’ mentality of the municipal leaders in negotiating labor contracts with employees.” Pensions in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as set by state law as enacted by the Massachusetts Legislature.
The Eagle-Tribune claims the Pioneer Institute is giving grades to the many different retirement boards throughout the commonwealth. Lawrence received a grade of F because it’s only 39-percent funded yet the system going to be fully funded by the year 2038. Andover Retirement Board received a grade of D even though it’s 50-percent funded and was downgraded because the system will be fully funded by the year 2040. Andover was scheduled to be fully funded at an earlier date, but town officials persuaded the retirement board to move the date back to 2040, whereas the town would be making smaller payments to the retirement system. Incredibly, the Methuen system received a grade of C with 47-percent funded system. The Eagle-Tribune’s argument is illogical.
The Eagle-Tribune tries to make a comparison between private sector workers with public sector employees by using the argument of 401(k) investment programs. The 401(k) program is not available to the public sector employees. In a typical 401(k) program, the employer contributes considerable amount of money to the worker’s account. That employer contribution to a 401(k) investment is not available to a public employee.