What a week in Rhode Island politics. Welcome back to my weekly 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 snapping.
The state retirement board voted in closed session Friday afternoon to approve a proposed pension settlement. The board met in executive session for nearly an hour, ending in a vote of 6 – 1, with 5 abstentions.
Update: It looks like a settlement is back on; the federal mediation service plans to hold a news conference at 4:15 pm Friday.
A news conference to unveil a pension settlement Wednesday afternoon was abruptly postponed, although closed-door mediation in the case will continue. Meanwhile, the judge overseeing the dispute has also set a trial for September 15, in the event that a settlement can’t be reached.
The two sides in Rhode Island’s ongoing lawsuit over the state’s pension overhaul meet today to update a judge on their efforts to reach a settlement. The case has been in mediation for about a year now, but
little is known about how the closed door negotiation has been playing out. The outcome could have a major impact on the state’s bottom line, since architects crafted the pension overhaul to reduce the amount of money Rhode Island has to pay to retired state workers.
For more insight, we turn to Rhode Island Public Radio’s Political Analyst Scott MacKay.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo started fleshing out her vision for Rhode Island as she formally announced her campaign Monday morning.
Raimondo emphasized the economy, laying out ideas that include writing off some college loans to encourage grads to stay in Rhode Island, creating a funding formula for road and bridge improvements, and establishing an institute to foster growth-sector jobs.
The new year marks the start of Governor Lincoln Chafee's final year in office. That's because he announced last year he wouldn't seek re-election. The Republican-turned-independent-turned Democrat has faced low public approval ratings since narrowly winning a four-way race for governor in 2010. Yet as part of this wide-ranging interview, Chafee asserts he'll leave a positive legacy for the state.
One of the key issues facing the General Assembly in the new year is the fate of a significant overhaul of the state pension system in 2011. The new legislative session starts Tuesday.
State officials and public employee unions have held closed-door talks for more than a year in an attempt to settle a lawsuit over the pension overhaul. House Speaker Gordon Fox said he opposes any dramatic changes, because the overhaul alleviated pressure on the state budget.