RI pension fund

Katherine Doherty / RIPR

With the state pension fund, Rhode Island will use its shareholder vote to promote diversity on corporate boards.

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner says the state will vote against boards with fewer than 30% women or racial minorities, for companies in which the state pension fund invests.

Magaziner said the new policy will promote diversity in corporate businesses, which will lead to better performance.

Aaron Read / RIPR

When she was Rhode Island’s state general treasurer, Gina Raimondo led a successful campaign to overhaul the state’s pension system. As she pursues a controversial truck tolling policy, RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders why she is not taking a chapter from her treasurer’s book now.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Documents to formalize a settlement of the state pension lawsuit were filed Monday in Superior Court . The settlement faces several hurdles to be completed.

Lawyers announced in court earlier this month that most public employee unions and retirees had agreed to a proposed settlement to the legal challenge over Rhode Island’s 2011 pension overhaul. The attorneys are now following up by filing documents outlining the agreement.

RIPR FILE

Once again, Rhode Island politics is ensnared in a public employee pension controversy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time to put this issue in our collective rear view mirror.

It’s well past time to get beyond the noisy debate over public employee pensions in Rhode Island. It’s a joust that has ensnared  the Statehouse for more than a generation. It has long pitted the business community against public employees and their union leaders, fractured relations between conservatives and liberals and led to tortuous attempts for years to shore up the system.

Eighty years ago, Rhode Island Democrats took over state government with one fell swoop in a coup that became known as the Bloodless Revolution. The event has set the template for Rhode Island politics ever since.

In just 14 minutes at the State House on New Year’s Day, 1935, the Democrats took control of the General Assembly, replaced the entire Rhode Island Supreme Court,  consigned to the dustbin of history more than 80 boards and commissions and fired Republican appointees who had run state government forever.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island’s Democratic General Assembly leaders want to exempt pensions and social security from state income taxes. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if this makes sense in our cash-strapped state government.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, have both said that one of their top priorities when the Assembly convenes in January is legislation that would end income taxes on pensions and social security.

When will Rhode Islanders stop debating public employee pensions? RIPR political analyst  Scott MacKay says that won’t happen anytime soon.

As if the 2014 Rhode Island election campaigns won’t provide enough grist for everyone’s political mill, here comes the vote on the proposed public employee pension settlement crafted by their union leaders, Gov. Lincoln Chafee and State General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

RIPR FILE

In the famous words of Yogi Berra, `it ain’t over till its over.’ RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains why that’s the case with the latest twist in Rhode Island’s public employee pension settlement.

In many a long legal  battle, a settlement reached out of court marks the end of a contentious lawsuit. The opposing parties shake hands and sometimes share an odd drop. Then they put the dispute behind them.

In the famous words of Yogi Berra, `it ain’t over till its over.’ RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains why that’s the case with the latest twist in Rhode Island’s public employee pension settlement.

In many a long legal  battle, a settlement reached out of court marks the end of a contentious lawsuit. The opposing parties shake hands and sometimes share an odd drop. Then they put the dispute behind them.

In most protracted court battles, a settlement reached after tortuous year-long negotiations marks the end of a lawsuit and allows the parties to move forward. Often the lawyers celebrate and perhaps even share an odd drop together.

That wasn’t the case Friday. The  proposed legal settlement between the state and the unions that represent public school teachers and state employees and retirees is just the beginning of a cumbersome ratification process that is sure to become ensnared in what is shaping up as a contentious political campaign season in Rhode Island.

This just in from RIPR's Ian Donnis:

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, State  Treasurer Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Tersea  Paiva Weed met privately at the State House this afternoon for  a 90-minute closed-door briefing on the proposed state pension overhaul legal settlement.

The settlement details are scheduled to be released on Wednesday.  The parties to the pension lawsuit have been under a gag order by Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter for more than a year. None of the state officials in today’s meeting disclosed any settlement details.

So here is State General Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s response to criticism of her state pension investment strategy: Send campaign cash!

In an e-mail message, Raimondo denounces critics of her pension investments as partisans. ``You might haved seen the latest round of attacks against me by a `pension expert’ who was paid tens of thousands of dollars by a Rhode Island special interest group to criticize our work stabilizing our state’s failing pension system. Make no mistake: These attacks were personal, recycled an an attempt to take down pension reform.’’

The disputes over State General Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s pension investment strategy rages on. The latest  salvo comes from Gretchen Morgenson, the respected financial columnist for the New York Times.

file / RIPR

Rhode Island’s pension fund earned a return on its investment of a little more than 11 percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30th. But state Treasurer Gina Raimondo is sounding a warning about the future of the state’s pension plan.

The 11.1 percent earned by the state pension fund is a big improvement over the 1.4 percent return a year earlier. Still, Rhode Island fared a bit worse than the 12.5 percent earned by the country’s largest public employee pension system, CALPERS, over the same period.

In politics, as in pensions, assets can turn into liabilities. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if an advocacy group for pension overhaul that doesn’t need to disclose its members has become state Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s Achilles heel.