economy

Photo by: Ian Donnis

PROVIDENCE, RI – Leaders of Rhode Island cities and towns will be making their case to the General Assembly's joint Finance Committee on what they need from the proposed pension overhaul plan.

There are 36 locally managed pension plans in 24 different communities. Many of them have just a small percentage of the money needed to meet their long-term commitments.

The mayors of Providence, Cranston, and other municipal officials say they need more state help to make their pensions solid.

Photo by: Megan Hall

PROVIDENCE, RI – Testimony at Wednesday's public hearing on proposed pension overhaul pit organized labor against small business. Hundreds of people crowded the state house for the first of three public hearings on a bill that would scale back public employee pension benefits in an effort to return the plan to solvency.

Photo by: Nancy Lavin

PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence police have no plans to evict the roughly 100 members of Occupy Providence camping out in a downtown park.

Participants say they have a good relationship with city police despite the fact that they're occupying Burnside Park without a permit.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare visited the park Monday morning, says Occupy' organizer Amanda Magee.

Rhode Island Public Radio file photo.

PROVIDENCE, RI – RIPTA board member Margaret Holland McDuff says public outcry played a huge role in making sure services weren't part of the public transit system's budget cuts. McDuff says the RIPTA board voted to spare service cuts--although the time between bus arrivals will increase.

RIPTA had been looking at cutting night service after 10 pm or eliminating dozens of routes as a way to close a nearly $5 million budget shortfall. But McDuff says rider protests to those cuts were heard loud and clear.

Photo by Ian Donnis.

PROVIDENCE, RI – More bad news on municipal pensions and the woes of State Representative Dan Gordon. That's part of the discussion this week on Political Roundtable. This week's special guest: Cranston Mayor Allan Fung.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@wrni.org.

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PROVIDENCE, RI – About 100 RIPTA bus drivers and managers rallied at Kennedy Plaza Tuesday morning to protest a proposed 30 percent cut in federal funding. Paul Harrington, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union says the cut would be a disaster for the already cash-strapped agency.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Legislative leaders say a court victory for public-employee unions won't stop them from pursuing pension reform. They plan to continue with a series of joint budget discussions starting Wednesday.

House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed say they still anticipate getting a proposal to fix the state pension plan. They say they'll take whatever action is "reasonable and necessary to address the pension crisis" facing Rhode Island.

Photo by James Wyman.

PROVIDENCE, RI – State Treasurer Gina Raimondo says it might be possible to solve Rhode Island's pension crisis without cutting public employees' earned benefits. She made that statement during a pension briefing to the state Senate.

A member of Raimondo's staff told senators that state employees aren't legally shielded from cuts to benefits they've earned. A short time later, Raimondo said she hopes to fix the state pension plan without cutting workers' accrued benefits.

Photo by James Wyman.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Barbara MacMullan never imagined the construction of five offshore wind turbines would divide a place known for its conservation. The Block Island resident thought the wind farm was no brainer. It's green. It's clean. And it could end the island's dependence on diesel powered energy.

But Barbara MacMullan thought wrong.

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PROVIDENCE, RI – When Central Falls receiver Robert Flanders Jr. rolled out proposed cuts to police and fire retirees back in July, he warned that a haircut looked a lot better than a beheading. Now Flanders is backing up that statement by taking more out of retirement checks than first expected.

Providence, RI – Congressman Jim Langevin says he is reviewing a deal that would allow the federal government to avoid defaulting on its debt. The Rhode Island Democrat has not said whether he will support the deal. It calls for spending cuts, but would not raise taxes on the wealthy. Langevin says it is important that the US remain in good standing with its creditors. However, he says a fair solution should include both spending cuts and tax increases for higher income households.

Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln Chafee is reviewing the state's options should Congress fail to reach a deal and raise the nation's debt limit. Without raising the debt ceiling, Rhode Island could see some of its federal funding disappear, affecting programs like food stamps and Medicaid. Chafee says Congress must reach an agreement, as Rhode Island, along with the rest of the nation, cannot afford anything that would impede its economic recovery.

Photo by Catherine Welch

PROVIDENCE, RI – It's now up to Central Falls retirees and workers to decide whether they will accept changes to their pensions and benefits. Those changes include a haircut for everyone who retired before turning 60-years-old.

PROVIDENCE, RI – In reaction to President Obama's statement that Social Security and veteran's checks may not go out next month, Rhode Island seniors say they are worried that they may not get their checks.

At a North Providence senior center, the threat of a cut-off in social security benefits starting August 3rd had people like Thelma Visnewski wondering how they would pay their rent.

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