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Patrick Proposes Overhaul Of Mass. Pension System

Looking to rein in the increasing costs of pensions, Gov. Deval Patrick is recommending the state increase the retirement age for state workers, end retirement subsidies and eliminate "double-dipping" by elected officials.

Patrick made the recommendations as part of his plan to overhaul the Massachusetts pension system. Under Patrick's plan the retirement age for most state workers would increase to age 60 to 67 from the current 55 to 65. The overhaul would also prohibit elected officials from simultaneously collecting a paycheck and a state pension.

The governor said the changes are designed to make the pension system more equitable and sustainable. The proposal follows up on a bill that passed the Legislature in 2009.

Patrick says the reforms will save the state a substantial amount of money.

"Taken together, these proposals will generate over $5 billion in pension funding savings over 30 years, including an estimated $2 billion for cities and towns," he said.

Senate President Therese Murray unveiled the reforms with Patrick.

"They are tough choices but they are necessary, and we think they are reasonable adjustments to modernize the system for future public employees," Murray said.

Changes have been discussed after the late Middlesex Sheriff James DiPaola filed for retirement to take advantage of a pension law allowing retirees to run for paid elective office without losing their pensions.

DiPaola stood to gain an annual pension of $98,500 in addition to his sheriff's pay of $123,000.

He committed suicide in November shortly after the disclosure.

WBUR's Steve Brown contributed reporting from the State House.

This program aired on January 18, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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