Next Week on Beacon Hill: Webster v. Webster Smackdown

(Update, April 24, 2012. Yesterday, on the first day of the House budget debate, both Representatives Webster withdrew their competing amendments. Neither offered an explanation.)

Next week the state House of Representatives debates the annual budget. I’m especially looking forward to the debate on the subject of state employee pensions, where Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Pembroke) will square off against Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Pembroke).

In one corner, Rep. Webster, wearing the red trunks with the Pioneer Institute insignia, will argue for his amendment to establish a purely private alternative to the public retirement system. State employees could go totally Ayn Rand: no tiresome limits on how much of your earnings you can contribute, no tiresome taxes on your gains and no tiresome benefits to collect when you retire.

And in the other corner, Rep. Webster, wearing the black trunks with the National Association of Government Employees insignia, will argue for his amendment to work the current system in a way often referred to as “hackery.” It would confer the highest level of retirement benefits (known as “Group 4” status) on a lucky new group of employees, in this case the officers in the bureau of criminal investigation in the sheriff’s department of Plymouth County. Group 4 retirees get a full state pension at age 55, while most state workers have to wait until they’re 65. This special retirement status was created for workers in hazardous public safety positions, where age can become an issue early. According to the Plymouth County Sheriff’s website, the employees Rep. Webster is going to bat for “assist local police at crime and accident scenes, most often by taking photographs and gathering forensic evidence.” A workplace photo:

The House Republicans have been itching for more debate all year, so expect a barnburner.

(Cross-posted at BlueMassGroup.)

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