The Honorable Kenneth I. Gordon, House Chair
The Honorable Michael D. Brady, Senate Chair
Joint Committee on Public Service
State House, Boston

Delivered electronically

Dear Chair Gordon, Chair Brady, and Distinguished Members of the Committee,

On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association appreciates the opportunity to submit the following comments on bills currently before your committee. We appreciate your careful consideration of the local government position on these important matters regarding presumption legislation, pension bonuses, and other mandated benefits.

Presumption – Contagious or Infectious Diseases
The MMA strongly opposes S. 1624, An Act relative to disability or death caused by infectious diseases, presumption. The bill would establish legal presumptions for certain injuries or illnesses contracted by certain public employees, extending accidental disability benefits or injured-on-duty pay via a blanket presumption rather than evidence of actual causality. The bill’s passage would be very costly for municipalities and local taxpayers, and would immediately increase the already massive municipal unfunded pension liability.

Presumption bills would automatically trigger M.G.L. Chapter 41, Section 111F, injured-on-duty benefits for public safety employees, regardless of whether the onset of the disease was actually work-related. This would force cities and towns to pay all of the related medical costs directly to health providers — circumventing the health insurance plans that communities are already providing. By granting an automatic presumption, cities and towns would be forced to pay double the cost — once for a health insurance plan that cannot be used when employees go into the 111F system, and a second time by paying all bills that health providers submit (with no restrictions on how much the hospital or provider can charge). Since all employees are already covered for these medical conditions in their municipal health insurance plans, this is an inefficient and unaffordable mandate to force onto taxpayers. New presumption legislation, especially with no reliable data regarding actual causality, would create untenable burdens on communities and local taxpayers with respect to financial, health care, and personnel administration.

COVID-19 Pension Bonuses
S. 1619, An Act providing for a COVID-19 retirement credit to essential first responders employees, would allow expanded pension benefits for state and local employees who worked outside their homes during the COVID-19 state of emergency. This measure would provide an unprecedented extension of benefits that would be paid by local taxpayers with little recourse and understanding of the magnitude of the burden placed on communities. We respectfully urge the Committee to not report S. 1619 out of Committee without first conducting a comprehensive cost analysis, Massachusetts-based risk and health analyses, and providing the public and local taxpayers with a comprehensive actuarial projection of the impact on communities, the public retirement systems, and a method of funding these costs. We are confident that this analysis will demonstrate that S. 1619 is unaffordable, and would place extraordinary fiscal pressures on cities and towns.

Other Retirement Credits, Bonuses & Mandated Benefits
The MMA strongly opposes bills that would add new unfunded obligations to municipal retirement systems in Massachusetts. These measures would clearly increase the unfunded ratio of every system, placing a heavier financial burden on local taxpayers. This would translate into reductions in available funding for municipal services in other areas, including personnel, and would have a disproportionately large financial impact on small towns.

For these reasons, the MMA opposes the following bills:
H. 2475, An Act relative to certain Option B and Option C retirees
H. 2560, An Act relative to certain Option B and Option C retirees
H. 2603, An Act further regulating the retirement benefits of certain public safety employees
H. 2668, An Act relative to the retirement benefits of certain public safety employees
H. 2626, An Act relative to the veteran allowance for public retirees
S. 1753, An Act relative to the veteran allowance for public retirees
S. 1741, An Act relative to the retirement options of certain educational personnel

We greatly appreciate your consideration of these important local government concerns. We look forward to working with you and your staff on these issues this legislative session to protect the interests of municipalities and local taxpayers. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to have your office contact me or MMA Senior Executive and Legislative Director Dave Koffman at or 617-426-7272, ext. 122, at any time.

Thank you very much.


Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO