Speculation continues about whether a settlement will emerge from closed-door pension mediation as soon as next week.
The head of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, Daniel Beardsley, is worried that a settlement could hike pension costs for communities by more than $100 million. The league outlines its concerns in a new white paper. But as Beardsley says, it remains unclear if the General Assembly will be receptive to approving a settlement.
"It’s going to be very interesting to see what legislative leadership decides to do when this mediated settlement is announced," he says, "and I’m hearing maybe early next week."
Lawyers for public-employee unions and the state have taken part in closed door pension mediation for more than a year. That came after the unions filed a lawsuit challenging a significant overhaul of the state pension plan in 2011.
Beardsley notes that cities and towns don't have representatives included in the closed-door pension talks. The mediation is being conducted with the participation of lawyers for the unions, the governor's office, and the treasurer's office. A gag order imposed by a judge precludes the participants from talking about the details.
If a settlement emerges, and the General Assembly doesn't approve it, the unions' lawsuit would continue to move through the court system.