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Governor's COLA veto sparks outrage

MTA President Anne Wass expressed outrage at Governor Deval Patrick’s decision on August 8 to veto legislation that would have provided a modest cost-of-living increase for thousands of retired educators and others who have devoted their careers to public service.

“I am disappointed, frustrated and angered by the governor’s action,” Wass said. “Our retirees deserve respect and a fair cost-of-living increase, and the governor has denied them those things.”

Wass vowed to renew the MTA’s campaign to get the administration to help retirees meet the rising cost of basic living expenses.

 “When the Legislature resumes formal sessions in January, we will again take up the fight to gain a COLA increase for retired educators and others who have dedicated their professional lives to students and public service,” she said. “Until the governor agrees to address this issue, our retirees will keep falling further and further behind. That’s unacceptable.”

Before adjourning for the year, the Legislature passed a bill increasing the COLA base by $4,000 – from $12,000 to $16,000 – for state retirees receiving pensions of $40,000 or less during the current fiscal year.

The increase – which would have provided retirees with an additional $10 per month – was to apply to all state and educator retirees in the following year. It would have been the first “raise” for retirees in 11 years.

The maximum annual COLA that a retiree or survivor can receive has been $360 since 1997. The base was set at $6,000 in 1971 and has not come close to keeping pace with the increase in basic living costs over the past 37 years.