In a move that could send the battle over Rhode Island's 2011 pension overhaul back to court, one of the six plaintiff groups that had to initially sign off on a proposed settlement has voted against the deal.
As a result, Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter has ordered the two sides in the dispute -- the state and a series of public-employee unions -- back to mediation. Taft-Carter is slated to get an update on the talks next Monday, April 14.
Thousands of public employees and retirees who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit over the state’s pension overhaul have voted to approve changes made in mediation. Of the 23,624 individuals eligible to cast a ballot, roughly 70 percent did not vote against it.
The settlement agreement stated that if one of the six plaintiffs groups rejected the deal by more than half, then the settlement process ends. One group, police, rejected the deal by 61 percent. But spokesman for the plaintiffs’ Ray Sullivan, said this will not halt the process.
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.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican candidate for governor, joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss his plan for beating rival GOP candidate Ken Block; his opposition to Rhode Island's proposed pension settlement; the impact of Massachusetts gambling on Twin River; and Myrth York's endorsement for Gina Raimondo.
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.