Next Week on Beacon Hill: Webster v. Webster Smackdown

Hilarious - a perfect example of the incoherence that is the Massachusetts Republican party. - promoted by david

Next week the state House of Representatives debates the annual budget. I’m looking forward to the debate on the subject of state employee pensions, where Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Pembroke) will square off against Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Pembroke).

In one corner, Rep. Webster, wearing the red trunks with the Pioneer Institute insignia, will argue for his amendment to establish a purely private alternative to the public retirement system. State employees could go totally Ayn Rand: no tiresome limits on how much of your earnings you can contribute, no tiresome taxes on your gains and no tiresome benefits to collect when you retire.

And in the other corner, Rep. Webster, wearing the black trunks with the National Association of Government Employees insignia, will argue for his amendment to work the current system in a way sometimes referred to as “hackery.” It would confer the highest level of retirement benefits (known as “Group 4″ status) on a lucky new group of employees, in this case the officers in the bureau of criminal investigation in the sheriff’s department of Plymouth County. Group 4 retirees get a full state pension at age 55, while most state workers have to wait until they’re 65. This special retirement status was created for workers in hazardous public safety positions, where age can become an issue early. According to the Plymouth County Sheriff’s website, the employees Rep. Webster is going to bat for “assist local police at crime and accident scenes, most often by taking photographs and gathering forensic evidence.” A workplace photo:

The House Republicans have been itching for more debate all year, so expect a barnburner.

(Cross-posted here.)


4 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Pensions should be abolished

    Retired public employees should get exactly the same pension and health care benefits that most of us in private sector get: NOTHING

    If someone wants to retire at 55 – go right ahead – so long as you are not doing it on my dime. Current employees who will soon retire should get the pension and OPEB benefits that are in their contract. All others should be weaned off the chuck wagon. New employees should get nothing, someone with 5 years gets a little, 10 years gets a bit more, 20 years gets quite a bit more, and so on.

    I’m a lifer Democrat who is sick and tired of pensions, sick leave buyback, Quinn bills, and the myriad other gimmees that is making government unaffordable.

  2. State employees get state retirement...

    …you get Social Security. Rather than tearing others down you should be fighting for everyone to get a comfortable retirement.

    • Lifer Dem, I feel your pain,

      but to second Christopher’s motion, would it not be good if defined benefit pensions” (that public employees and very few others nowadays receive) were were the norm rather than the exception?

      Don’t give up. Remember the Gilded Age plutocrat Jay Gould once said “I can make one half of the working class kill the other half.”

      And a small point, but at least one of the things you describe as weaning is actually happening. New employees retire at ages 57 and 67 (instead of 55 and 65).

  3. Webster Smackdown Called Off

    Update. Yesterday, on the first day of the House budget debate, both Representatives Webster withdrew their competing amendments. Neither offered an explanation.

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Sat 29 Apr 11:31 AM