Teresa Paiva Weed

RIPR FILE

What’s worse than the 38 Studios fiasco for Rhode Island ‘s political and economic reputation? RIPR political analyst  Scott MacKay points to the aftermath.

It’s been nearly four years since  then- Gov. Donald Carcieri, the state Economic Development Corporation and the General Assembly foisted the disaster that is 38 Studios on Rhode Island taxpayers.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A state Senate committee voted Tuesday to create a new Rhode Island infrastructure fund that would eliminate tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. As Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis reports, the bill faces several hurdles to take effect.

The legislation unanimously passed by the Senate Finance Committee would generate 800 million dollars over 10 years for keeping up roads and bridges. Senate President Teresa Pavia Weed calls the bill a long-term approach, starting next year, for improving the state’s decaying infrastructure.

A senate committee will vote Wednesday on legislation that would ultimately put the governor and lieutenant governor on a joint ticket. The bill co-sponsored by Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed would let voters decide on a constitutional amendment linking the two top offices.

Paiva Weed said previous lieutenant governors have had to define their own roles, while this legislation would make them an assistant to the governor.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Common Cause of Rhode Island is giving qualified support to a new proposal introduced by state Senator James Sheehan (D-North Kingtown) to restore state Ethics Commission oversight of the General Assembly.

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.

What everyone in the Rhode Island political swirl should understand about the state pension overhaul settlement details that are due for release tomorrow: This is very likely to be only the beginning of a protracted process.

One thing we know for sure. Even if it is fair and reasonable, not everyone is going to like it. Some unionized state employees and teachers will not be satisfied with anything less than a full restoration of the pension benefits that were sliced dramatically in the 2011 special General Assembly pension session.

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.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The state Senate on Tuesday afternoon unveiled a new plan meant to close a skills gap in Rhode Island. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said the “Rhode to Work” plan is a response to business leaders’ complaints that they’re having trouble finding skilled workers.

The plan calls for creating a single workforce training system; improving adult education; and expanding the number of internships and apprenticeships in Rhode Island.

The General Assembly starts action Tuesday afternoon in a year marked by politically complicated issues -- the possible fallout of pension mediation and the rising tab for 38 Studios, for starters -- and a high-profile race for governor.

In case you've missed it, here are some ways to get up to speed on the new legislative session.

My interview with House Speaker Gordon Fox.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed sat down prior to the start of the new General Assembly session to discuss top issues facing the state, including the economy; the growing cost of paying back investors in 38 Studios, Sakonnet River Bridge tolls, voter ID, and more.

House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed each say they intend to seek another term at the top of their respective chambers in 2015, provided they win re-election to their legislative seats next November.

In related news, Fox and Paiva Weed sounded different notes on the issue of repaying investors in failed video-game maker 38 Studios. The tab for taxpayers is set to increase in 2014 to $12.5 million dollars, up from $2.5 million in 2013 -- a factor that may resound in legislative elections in the new year.

Welcome back to my Friday column, and thanks for stopping by. As always, feel free to drop me a line at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Let's get going:

In the aftermath of last year’s Newtown school shootings, Rhode Island politicians leaped on the gun control bandwagon. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders what’s happened since.

After last December’s horrific school massacre in Connecticut, political leaders from the White House to the Rhode Island State House vowed to crack down on gun violence. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed all advocated measures to advance gun control in our state.

Pages