Massachusetts Bill Would Expand Peace Corps Retirement Credit
By Jonathan Pearson on Friday, June 14th, 2013
For the past ten years, teachers in Massachusetts have had the benefit of applying their Peace Corps service towards state retirement credit.
Now, legislation is being considered that would allow all state employees who served in the Peace Corps to be eligible for the same benefit.
At a public hearing on June 10th, the Joint Committee on Public Service heard testimony on House Bill 2405, “An Act Authorizing Certain Public Employees Credible Retirement Service.” Along with extending retirement credit to all state employees for Peace Corps service, the legislation introduced by West Boylston Representative Jim O’Day would also extend the benefit for individuals who served in VISTA, the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Among those testifying in support of the legislation was Russ Gaulin, an Environmental Analyst with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. Russ served as a Fish Culture Extension Agent in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between 1979 and 1982. In his testimony, Russ noted how he helped establish some of the first fish farms that have provided protein and income to thousands of individuals over the decades.
But that’s not all. In his prepared remarks, Russ added that “The specific knowledge I gained in hydography, and seeing serious degradation of natural resources have served me well in my career, where I now help protect our water supplies…”
The legislation has the backing of the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists (MOSES). MOSES President Joe Dorant also testified, noting “MOSES members have told me how their experiences in the Peace Corps inspired and shaped their decision to spend their entire careers in public service.” As one example, Dorant cited the accomplishments of RPCV Elaine Hartman (Brazil 1977-79), who helped create the first functioning Ecological Station in Brazil, for the purposes of water quality evaluation. ”When the project ended and inspired by her work in the Peace Corps, Elaine sought work in the public sector, where she has spent almost 30 years working for the Department of Environmental Protection focusing on water quality and the environment.”
According to research last updated by the National Peace Corps Association in 2009, 23 states offer some form of Peace Corps retirement credit for some or all state employees.
For those interested in organizing around the issue of retirement credit in Massachusetts or elsewhere, we have a dedicated link to a retirement credit group as part of NPCA’s online community, and will be updating this site later in 2013.