Ballots have been mailed to union members and retirees who are eligible to participate in the first round of voting on the proposed pension settlement that was unveiled February 14, according to Ray Sullivan, a spokesman for the plaintiffs' coalition the case. The deadline for returning the ballots is April 3.
Sullivan says a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope has been provided with the ballot. He says the ballots will tabulated by ProMail, which he says is an independently administered firm.
"Per the terms outlined in the settlement agreement, the mail balloting process for this round of voting must be completed within 60 days of February 14, 2014," Sullivan says via email.
Under the terms of the proposed agreement, ballots that are not returned will be counted as "yes" votes.
The agreement faces a series of hurdles to become effective, starting with votes by affected union members and retirees. The pact must win General Assembly approval to become effective.
Supporters of the agreement, including Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo and Governor Lincoln Chafee, praise it as a way to preserve 96 percent of the savings of the pension overhaul spearheaded by Raimondo in 2011. Critics, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung, say cities and towns can't afford the increased cost of the agreement, which would hike pension costs for the state and local communities by a combined 24 percent in fiscal 2016.