State-Run Pensions for Private-Sector Employees Proposed

Governing Magazine

By Dylan Scott

It’s a new twist in the government-pension conversation: some states are considering government-run retirement plans for private-sector employees.

The idea has been raised in at least 12 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. Wisconsin lawmakers are expected to introduce a proposal in the near future, the (Madison) Capitol Times reported Tuesday.

Massachusetts is the only state so far to pass a policy, although its scope is limited: non-profit workers at firms with 20 employees or fewer. The California Senate approved a much broader bill in May, and it is now working through various Assembly committees.

An important note: these proposals do not ask for taxpayer money to be given to private retirement plans. Rather, the state government (instead of the private employer) is responsible for collecting employee contributions and contracting financial advisers to manage the accounts.

The concept is fairly new. Maryland was the first state to introduce so-called “voluntary accounts” legislation in 2006, according to NCSL. Lawmakers in California, Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts have proposed bills this year.

The impetus for these proposals is likely two-fold, Ron Snell, senior fellow at NCSL, tells Governing. The economic downturn gutted existing private retirement plans and hampered the ability of businesses to offer them. A 2011 survey by the AARP found that more than half of Americans over 50 were somewhat or very uncomfortable with their retirement savings. NPR reported in 2010 that the nation’s combined 401K and IRA value had dropped by $2 trillion at the worst point of the recession.

“The concern is the substantial number of private-sector workers who are covered by no retirement plan except Social Security,” Snell says. “Because of the expense, private-sector designed plans might not be particularly attractive in a small work environment, even if they could be offered.”

In addition to the faltering economy, the idea has also been floated more often in states with a strong union presence. “It’s supported in part by public-sector unions,” Snell says, “because I think they see this as a way of assauging some of the sense of deprivation that private-sector workers have related to public-sector pension plans.”

David Adkins, executive director of the Council of State Governments, compares growing state interest in the concept to health-care reform. States are hoping in getting in front of what could become a greater problem. “Some legislators are looking at a variety of factors—we have an aging population, and it is not predicted that Social Security will be viable or properly funded as a safety net,” he says. “Therefore, some think this could provide some level of secruity for aging seniors. They’re thinking: ‘Let’s plan now.'”

The proposals do differ, but follow a generally similar structure. Here’s how it will work in Massachusetts: the state treasurer’s office will create a trust that will receive pension contributions from non-profit employers and employees. The plan is a defined-contribution model, and the treasurer’s office will manage it separately from the $5 billion public-employee pension fund. But given the size of the assets that the office already oversees, the relatively small addition of the non-profit accounts is expected to have minimal administrative costs.

Non-profit workers make up about 14 percent of the Massachusetts workforce, according to the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, which supported the legislation, and only one in five of those workers receive retirement benefits through their employer.

“In too many cases, non-profits simply haven’t had the resources to administer an affordable deferred compensation plan for their employees, resulting in countless people being isolated from a safe and secure retirement,” Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman, a supporter of the bill, said in a statement. “Non-profit workers provide important services that reach underprivileged and struggling segments of our population, and this new law will incent thousands of people to continue that critical work.”

The California bill, which passed the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security last week and was referred to the Appropriations Committee, would institute a broader program. The California Secure Choice Savings Trust would be available to any private employers with five employees or more. Its board would be headed by the State Treasurer. As in Massachusetts, the trust would follow a defined-contribution model, and controls would be in place to ensure that its administration came at minimal cost to the state and that the state would not be liable for paying any benefits to its enrollees.

The legislation’s authors cited research by the University of California-Berkeley, which found that nearly 50 percent of state residents retire at or near the poverty line. Another study by UC-Berkeley concluded that 6.3 million Californians currently do not receive retirement benefits through their work.

The bill “addresses this population by providing them a portable and reliable retirement plan that will serve as a modest supplement to Social Security,” State Sen. Kevin de Leòn, one of its primary sponsors, said in a statement. “If we don’t offer this, most of these people will retire into poverty putting a further strain on our already scarce public resources.”

Similar factors have led Wisconsin lawmakers to develop their own proposal in recent weeks, according to the Capitol Times, although no bill has been formally introduced yet. State Sen. Dave Hansen, who has taken an active interest in the issue, told the newspaper that the state investment board has averaged a 10.6 percent return on investment for retirement plans over the last three decades—a record that eclipses many private peers.

June report by the Pew Center on the States concluded that Wisconsin had the most fiscally healthy public pension system. That finding, Hansen told the Times, has convinced him that the state has something to offer its privately employed constituents.

“This is an opportunity to open it up to other people and have a well-managed, secure fund,” Hansen said. “Fewer people feel confident these days that their retirement money will be there.”

Three Boston Nonprofits Honored for Excellence, Including a Project Involving the Hyde Square Task Force

Jamaica Plain Patch

By Cate Lecuyer and Chris Helms

Boston– The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network honored three Boston organizations Monday with Excellence Awards as part of the fourth annual Nonprofit Awareness Day.

The State House ceremony recognizes nonprofits that stand out as playing a critical role in strengthening the Commonwealth, and the Boston organizations were among seven winners chosen. The local organizations are:

“Nonprofits enrich our communities, our economy, and our lives in countless ways,” said Rick Jakious, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

Jamaica Plain is an epicenter of the non-profit sector, with more than 200 non-profits based in the neighborhood.

The winners were chosen from 14 finalists, and selected by a committee of leaders from across the state. Treasurer Steve Grossman was also honored as the Public Official of the Year, specifically for his support of the nonprofit retirement bill, which establishes a retirement plan for nonprofit employees.

“The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network,” Grossman said, “has had a dramatic impact on our state’s quality of life since it was created just a few years ago.”

Other organizations that received Excellence Awards included

  • MotherWoman, Amherst, Advocacy;
  • School for Field Studies, Beverly, Communications;
  • Dorcas Grigg-Saito, Lowell Community Health Center, Lowell, Leadership;
  • Nicki Eastburn, Assabet Valley Collaborative/Family Success Partnership, Young Nonprofit Professional

Three Boston Nonprofits Honored for Excellence

Back Bay Patch

by Cate Lecuyer

Boston-The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network honored three Boston organizations Monday with Excellence Awards as part of the fourth annual Nonprofit Awareness Day.

The State House ceremony recognizes nonprofits that stand out as playing a critical role in strengthening the Commonwealth, and the Boston organizations were among seven winners chosen. The local organizations are:

  • Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project, a three-year project funded by Raw Art Works in Lynn that collaborates with Boston youth arts organizations including: ZumixThe Theater OffensiveMedicine Wheel Productions, and the Hyde Square Task Force. Honored for collaboration.

“Nonprofits enrich our communities, our economy, and our lives in countless ways,” said Rick Jakious, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

The winners were chosen from 14 finalists, and selected by a committee of leaders from across the state. Treasurer Steve Grossman was also honored as the Public Official of the Year, specifically for his support of the nonprofit retirement bill, which establishes a retirement plan for nonprofit employees.

“The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network,” Grossman said, “has had a dramatic impact on our state’s quality of life since it was created just a few years ago.”

Other organizations that received Excellence Awards included

  • MotherWoman, Amherst, Advocacy;
  • School for Field Studies, Beverly, Communications;
  • Dorcas Grigg-Saito, Lowell Community Health Center, Lowell, Leadership;
  • Nicki Eastburn, Assabet Valley Collaborative/Family Success Partnership, Young Nonprofit Professional

Awareness Day Honors Outstanding Nonprofits

Republished with permission from massnonprofit.org

Boston– The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, the state’s nonprofit trade association, yesterday cited seven organizations as exemplifying excellence in a number of practice areas in connection with Nonprofit Awareness Day, a statewide holiday recognizing the nonprofit sector in Massachusetts.

Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. President Therese Murray, and Speaker Robert DeLeo served as honorary co-chairs of the annual event, which was emceed by NECN Anchor Kristy Lee.

Excellence Award finalists and winners were nominated by community members and their peers and selected by an independent panel of nonprofit leaders. This year, the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) received 122 nominations for the awards.

Named 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Award winners were the following:

  • Advocacy Excellence Award: MotherWoman (Amherst) for affecting significant public policy change through the education and mobilization of constituents, the general public, and or public policy decision-makers.

  • Board Leadership Excellence Award: Friday Night Supper Program (Boston) for exemplifying best practices in board governance and effectively partnering with staff, resulting in improved outcomes and/or increased resources.
  • Collaboration Excellence Award: The Boston Youth Arts Evaluation Project (Boston and Lynn) for partnering to achieve an outcome that furthers the mission of each organization and could not have been achieved separately.
  • Communications Excellence Award: The School for Field Studies (Beverly) for effectively using new and/or traditional media to increase the use of programs and services, or to create awareness of a specific issue or need.
  • Innovation Excellence Award: Families United in Educational Leadership (Boston) for making substantial progress toward key outcomes through the use of new approaches or strategies.
  • Leadership Excellence Award: Dorcas Grigg-Saito, Lowell Community Health Center(Lowell) for the strategic vision, passion, perseverance, and collaborative style that has led to extraordinary organizational or programmatic results.
  • Young Nonprofit Professional Excellence Award: Nicki Eastburn, Assabet Valley Collaborative/Family Success Partnership (Marlborough) for the strategic vision, passion, perseverance, and collaborative style that has led to extraordinary organizational or programmatic results

“With the public too often unaware of the critical contribution that nonprofits provide for the Commonwealth and the media periodically drawing attention to some negative perceptions about the nonprofit sector, it is important for us to highlight all the good work that nonprofits do for the Commonwealth,” said Rick Jakious, MNN’s chief executive.

The organization named Massachusetts Treasurer Steven Grossman as Public Official of the Year.

Group honors CEO of Lowell health center

Lowell Sun

By Robert Mills

BOSTON — The longtime leader of the Lowell Community Health Center was one of two individuals honored at the Statehouse Monday as the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network recognized Nonprofit Awareness Day.

Dorcas Grigg-Saito, who has served as CEO of the Lowell Community Health Center for the past 15 years, was one of just two people given individual Excellence in Leadership awards during a ceremony at the Statehouse attended by Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

Grigg-Saito has overseen the nonprofit community health-care agency as it planned and began building a $42 million new home at 161 Jackson St. in Lowell that is scheduled to open in December.

According to the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, LCHC has received $9.35 million in federal stimulus funds to help expand services in Lowell, and now provides services to one in three Lowell residents.

“Not only has Ms. Grigg-Saito led the Lowell Community Health Center into a new era of service and support for the Lowell community, but Lowell residents will finally have the access they need to crucial healthcare services,” the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network said in a prepared statement announcing the award.

Five nonprofit agencies across the state were also given Excellence in Leadership awards.

Grigg-Saito said the award was honor, but one earned by people who work for the agency.

“This honor today was a wonderful acknowledgementof the work of all of our 280 staff, who helped to care for Lowell every day,” Grigg-Saito said. “I really credit them for my being able to get this award.”

Grigg-Saito said that in addition to the building project, the agency has also raised $3 million toward a goal of raising $5 million by the end of the year to support capitol projects.

On the web at: www.lchealth.org

Springfield nonprofit honored at State House

WWLP 22- Springfield

By Christine Lee, 22News State House Correspondent

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A Springfield nonprofit was recognized for their work in helping the homeless Monday.  They were one of many groups honored at the 4 th annual Non-Profit Awareness Day at the State House.

“Everyday non-profits in Massachusetts make a difference in our state, enriching the lives of our children, our families and our communities,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop).

According to state officials, not only do Massachusetts non-profits contribute more than $87 billion to the state’s annual economy, but they do exceptional work in helping our local communities, doing what can sometimes be a thankless job.

“There’s a lot of non-profits in every community across this state and across the United States and they do an awful lot of work that never gets recognized or understood but yet if they were not there, there’d be an awful hole in that community,” said Springfield Rescue Mission CEO Ronald Willoughby, who has been serving the city’s poor for the last 25 years.

Willoughby received a special citation from the state Treasurer, naming him and the Springfield Rescue Mission a finalist for the Excellence in Leadership award.  The Mission helps homeless folks with food, shelter, and counseling.

“The Rescue Mission helped me out with a place to stay, with food, with education,” said Miguel Cabrera, who about a decade ago found himself with nowhere to turn to when he first moved to the U.S. from Uruguay.  “They helped me to deal with my personal problems …and all that, you know, it marks you for the rest of your life.”

Now Cabrera is a fulltime staff member at the Rescue Mission, helping up to 150 people a day get back on their feet, just as he once did.

Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion finalist for MA Nonprofit Excellence Awards

TuBoston.com

Boston– IBA- Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción was a finalist for the MA Nonprofit Excellence Award in the Collaboration category for its outstanding work with Bunker Hill Community College to create the Pathway Technology Campus (PTC). By establishing a college campus in the heart of the Villa Victoria affordable housing community, PTC has been able to provide South End/Lower Roxbury residents with opportunities to: complete GED’s; take adult education (ESL, Basic English and Math) and college classes (e.g. Fundamentals of Algebra, Principles of Psychology, English Writing Skills I); and receive academic support, case management, child care, advising, life skills and workforce development opportunities. IBA’s direct connection with a community college and a three-pronged approach (life skills development, academic enrichment and workforce readiness) helps at-risk learners to thrive.

Overall, the MA Nonprofit Network received 122 Nonprofit Excellence Award nominations from across the Commonwealth. Since the program’s launch in 2003, IBA:

  • Served over 600 participants;
  • Enrolled 200 students into degree programs;
  • Offered 6 onsite courses per year;
  • Helped 75 students to earn their GED;
  • Empowered 36 students earned C.N.A certificates (56% in workforce);
  • Helped 80 students obtain employment.

MassEquality Selected as a 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Award Finalist

Bay Windows

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network has announced that MassEquality, the leading statewide LGBT advocacy organization based in Boston, has been selected as a finalist for the 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Awards. The Excellence Awards are given each year to outstanding nonprofit organizations and professionals in the Commonwealth as part of MNN’s Nonprofit Awareness Day, a statewide holiday recognizing the nonprofit sector in Massachusetts.

MassEquality has been selected as a finalist for the Nonprofit Excellence Award in Advocacy for its work on the passage of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, marking the first time in approximately two decades that state lawmakers proactively passed civil rights legislation. Until passage of this law, transgender people in Massachusetts had no legal protections in housing, employment, schools, or credit, and anti-bias crimes were limited in how they could be prosecuted. MassEquality led the advocacy efforts of a broad-based coalition of groups working for its passage by organizing hundreds of meetings with legislators; recruiting testimony from key public officials, organizations and individuals; generating over 100,000 phone calls from voters to lawmakers in support of the bill; pitching placement of more than 100 supportive media pieces; and helping stage more than 20 events at the State House focusing attention on the Bill. MassEquality works to ensure that every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in Massachusetts is protected from cradle to grave—with equal rights and opportunities in school, in marriage and family life, at work and in retirement.

“Our communities would not be the same without the work of the extraordinary nonprofits in Greater Boston, said Ruth Bramson, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. “Finalists like MassEqualityrepresent the best of an exceptional group of individuals and organizations serving the Commonwealth.”

Excellence Award finalists and winners are nominated by community members and their peers and are selected by an independent panel of nonprofit leaders. This year, MNN received 122 Nonprofit Excellence Award nominations.

“Nonprofit Awareness Day was created to recognize the essential role that over 25,000 statewide nonprofits, with nearly a half million employees, play in our lives,” said Rick Jakious, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. “These finalists represent the very best of this critical sector.”

‘The law we worked to pass includes essential protections for transgender youth, adults, and families and is a life-changing piece of legislation,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini. “It’s an honor to do this work, to be recognized for it, and to be included among other such accomplished finalists.

Nonprofit Excellence Award Finalists and winners will be celebrated at the 2012 Nonprofit Awareness Day celebration on the morning of June 11 at the Massachusetts State House. Governor Deval Patrick,Senate President Therese Murray, and Speaker Robert DeLeo will all serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the event and the event will be emceed by NECN Anchor Kristy Lee.

MassEquality Selected as a 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Award Finalist

The Rainbow Times

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network has announced that MassEquality, the leading statewide LGBT advocacy organization based in Boston, has been selected as a finalist for the 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Awards. The Excellence Awards are given each year to outstanding nonprofit organizations and professionals in the Commonwealth as part of MNN’s Nonprofit Awareness Day, a statewide holiday recognizing the nonprofit sector in Massachusetts.

MassEquality has been selected as a finalist for the Nonprofit Excellence Award in Advocacy for its work on the passage of the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, marking the first time in approximately two decades that state lawmakers proactively passed civil rights legislation. Until passage of this law, transgender people in Massachusetts had no legal protections in housing, employment, schools, or credit, and anti-bias crimes were limited in how they could be prosecuted. MassEquality led the advocacy efforts of a broad-based coalition of groups working for its passage by organizing hundreds of meetings with legislators; recruiting testimony from key public officials, organizations and individuals; generating over 100,000 phone calls from voters to lawmakers in support of the bill; pitching placement of more than 100 supportive media pieces; and helping stage more than 20 events at the State House focusing attention on the Bill. MassEquality works to ensure that every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in Massachusetts is protected from cradle to grave—with equal rights and opportunities in school, in marriage and family life, at work and in retirement.

“Our communities would not be the same without the work of the extraordinary nonprofits in Greater Boston, said Ruth Bramson, CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. “Finalists like MassEquality represent the best of an exceptional group of individuals and organizations serving the Commonwealth.”

Excellence Award finalists and winners are nominated by community members and their peers and are selected by an independent panel of nonprofit leaders. This year, MNN received 122 Nonprofit Excellence Award nominations.

“Nonprofit Awareness Day was created to recognize the essential role that over 25,000 statewide nonprofits, with nearly a half million employees, play in our lives,” said Rick Jakious, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. “These finalists represent the very best of this critical sector.”

‘The law we worked to pass includes essential protections for transgender youth, adults, and families and is a life-changing piece of legislation,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini. “It’s an honor to do this work, to be recognized for it, and to be included among other such accomplished finalists.

Nonprofit Excellence Award Finalists and winners will be celebrated at the 2012 Nonprofit Awareness Day celebration on the morning of June 11 at the Massachusetts State House. Governor Deval PatrickSenate President Therese Murray, and Speaker Robert DeLeo will all serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the event and the event will be emceed by NECN Anchor Kristy Lee. For more information about Nonprofit Awareness Day and to register to attend, visit bit.ly/NPAD2012.

About the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) is the voice of the entire nonprofit sector in Massachusetts.  MNN was launched in 2007 to strengthen communities by serving nonprofit organizations through advocacy, public awareness and capacity building. MNN includes nearly 500 members, representing nonprofits in every part of Massachusetts, from the Berkshires to the Cape and Islands. For more information, visit www.massnonprofitnet.org.

About MassEquality

MassEquality works to ensure that every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in Massachusetts is protected from cradle to grave—with equal rights and opportunities in school, in marriage and family life, at work and in retirement.

Business Briefcase: School for Field Studies Selected as a 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Award Finalist

Salem News

The School for Field Studies was selected as a finalist for the 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Awards as part of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network’s Nonprofit Awareness Day. Headquartered in Beverly, The School for Field Studies was recognized for enhancing its web and marketing strategy, and ultimately driving a 949 percent increase in requested materials compared to the same time period in 2010. Finalists and winners will be celebrated at the 2012 Nonprofit Awareness Day celebration on June 11 at the Massachusetts State House.