At a public hearing held virtually on Sept. 1, MTA members and leaders urged the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Service to favorably report out a bill that would allow eligible teachers the opportunity to retire early without jeopardizing their financial security.
H.2620/S.1791, An Act to provide a retirement enhancement opportunity for certain members of the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System, allows eligible teachers who want to retire early to purchase years of service or “age” in order to strengthen their retirement benefits.
MTA President Merrie Najimy explained that the coronavirus pandemic brings added urgency to the legislation.
“Throughout the pandemic — and continuing to this day — educators have been expected to put their lives on the line. For some, it is simply not a viable option, given the status of their own health or that of family members they care for,” she said.
She praised educators for meeting the demands of their increasingly more difficult profession, adding that the pandemic has simply pushed some educators into untenable positions.
Several MTA members have shared their stories about how their health issues or those of loved ones made full-time in-person learning a dangerous option.
“They are facing an impossible choice: put themselves or vulnerable family members at risk or jeopardize a dignified and financially secure retirement,” Najimy told the committee. “Dedicated public servants who have committed their lives to the children of the Commonwealth should not be forced to make that choice.”
“They are facing an impossible choice: put themselves or vulnerable family members at risk or jeopardize a dignified and financially secure retirement.”MTA President Merrie Najimy
MTA Vice President Max Page testified on the mechanics of the bill, explaining that it is financially viable and addresses the concerns of school districts.
“For school districts, the potential savings would equal the difference between current and new teachers’ salaries less any additional health insurance costs, but total payroll savings will offset any ancillary costs. The bill’s voluntary local adoption provision eliminates any unfunded mandates,” Page explained.
The bill also calls for teaching positions opened by an early retirement to be backfilled with qualified teachers.