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State Senate passes pension reform bill

The Massachusetts Senate late this afternoon passed a major overhaul of the state pension system designed to cut benefits for future workers, saving $5 billion over a 30-year plan.

The proposal, which passed just before 5 p.m. would raise the minimum retirement age from 55 to 60 and would raise the retirement age for maximum benefits from 65 to 67. The bill would also base pension benefits on workers’ top five years of earnings, rather than the top three years, as is currently the practice.

The legislation now heads to the House for a vote. Speaker Robert A. DeLeo has not yet set a date for that debate.

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State Senator Katherine Clark, a Melrose Democrat who leads the Legislature’s committee on public service, said the pension changes proposed in the bill are necessary to ensure that the plan remains solvent for the next generation of public employees.

“This is not the beginning of dismantling what we have,’’ she said at the outset of debate today. “It is crafted to protect what we have.’’

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