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MMA calls for broad unemployment insurance bill

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At an April 19 hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Service, the MMA testified in support of legislation filed by Gov. Deval Patrick to address certain abuses of unemployment insurance benefits, but also called for broader legislation.

The governor’s bill, H. 3980, would prohibit retired employees from collecting unemployment benefits once they’ve reached the limit of hours they may work as a retired employee receiving a pension.

The MMA panel – MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, Franklin Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, and Wellesley Treasurer/Collector Marc Waldman – commended the timely filing of the legislation, but urged the committee to craft a more comprehensive bill that would address a multitude of concerns with the unemployment insurance system.

“We applaud the fine work of Labor Secretary Joanne Goldstein and her staff for reaching out to cities and towns to identify issues involved and investigate the various ways to close loopholes, ensure that benefits only go to those who should be eligible, and ramp up training and education measures to achieve the best possible administrative results,” Beckwith said in written testimony.

H. 3980 was filed in response to a letter sent to the governor by Lynnfield Town Administrator Bill Gustus highlighting numerous examples of public employees inappropriately receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

The MMA is continuing to work with the Joint Committee on Public Service, Goldstein, and the Unemployment Insurance Task Force, which has two municipal representatives, to seek comprehensive legislation to protect the integrity of the unemployment insurance system.
Written by MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Katie S. McCue