pension

State treasurer Gina Raimondo has come out with a report documenting her first two years in office.

Raimondo says her biggest accomplishment in her first two years of office was passage of a pension overhaul package for state workers.  While it shaved benefits, it guarantees pensions will be available for generations to come and saves taxpayers about four billion dollars over the next 20 years.

Raimondo also reports eliminating a backlog of 900 claims to the Crime Victim Compensation Program. Some of the claims dated back three or four years.

EngageRI, the pro-pension overhaul group started with encouragement from state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, is reminding Governor Lincoln Chafee of how pension savings made possible many of the initiatives in his new budget.

EngageRI chairman John Galvin says in a statement:

A former head of the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service -- the government arm mediating Rhode Island's pension dispute among eight parties -- calls the case "the mother of all mediations."

Peter J. Hurtgen, who led the FMCS from 2002 through 2004, says a subset of the eight parties in mediation could potentially reach some areas of agreement among themselves. But he says the complexity of the case makes it unusually fraught for mediation:

RI Treasurer Gina Raimondo
Gina Raimondo

The fate of the 2011 pension overhaul in mediation is among the top issues facing the state starting this month. As we transition into the New Year, Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis has been talking with state leaders. We’ve already heard from Governor Lincoln Chafee and state Senate president Teresa Paiva Weed…. Our latest interview is with state Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

The court-ordered pension mediation set to begin this month will take place against an intensifying political backdrop: the early stage of the 2014 gubernatorial race. State Treasurer Gina Raimondo says politics can remain separate and apart from the mediation process.

During a wide-ranging interview broadcast Thursday morning on RIPR, Raimondo pointed to the pension overhaul passed into law in 2011 as an example of policy-making in the public interest. 

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Providence firefighters vote Wednesday on a revised deal with the city. Paul Doughty, president of the city’s firefighters union, says members are voting on a couple of changes, but the most important one centers on how well their pension is funded. He says right now the pension is about 30 percent funded. Firefighters will vote on a provision requiring the city to pay at least 95 percent of its yearly contribution until the pension is 80 percent funded.

Governor Lincoln Chafee says he and the General Assembly have most of the authority to approve a settlement in a legal challenge to last year’s landmark pension overhaul. Court-ordered mediation is set to begin next month.
State treasurer Gina Raimondo was the architect of the pension overhaul passed last year by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor. Raimondo and Chafee are both defendants in the legal challenge filed by five public-sector unions against the overhaul.
Chafee says approval by Raimondo isn’t necessarily part of a settlement in the case.

As the two sides in Rhode Island's pension lawsuit prepare for court-ordered mediation next month, Governor Lincoln Chafee says the authority to approve a settlement rests largely with him and the General Assembly.

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, a leading advocate for litigating the pension case in court, is out with a statement responding to the mediation ordered this morning by Judge Sarah Taft-Carter:

“I have great respect for the judicial system and it is important to let this process unfold in an orderly and transparent way. We owe that to the people of Rhode Island and to our public employees.

Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter this morning told the two sides in the legal challenge to last year's landmark overhaul of the pension system to try to settle their differences through mediation.

Court spokesman Craig Berke says the talks will be facilitated by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a branch of the federal government. Taft-Carter is due to be updated on the status of the discussions in early February.

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo has hired Anne-Marie Fink as the state's chief investment officer, replacing Kenneth Goodreau, who, Raimondo says, is leaving after four years for a CIO job with TIG Advisors, effective January 1. 

Via news release:

Fink will be responsible for managing the state's $7.3 billion dollar pension system. 

Providence police on Thursday approved, by an 89 percent margin, a settlement with the City of Providence that, the city says, saves $18.5 million in the current budget year and cuts the pension plan’s unfunded liability by at least $170 million. The vote, word which came in via mobile phones as city officials joined reporters for a holiday party at the home of David Ortiz, Mayor Angel Taveras’ press secretary, is the latest in a string of negotiated settlements in Providence.

James Diossa, the mayor-elect of Central Falls, says EngageRI should disclose its contributors in the interest of transparency.

“I’m all about open [government] and honest and transparency, so I believe it should be open,” Diossa said during a taping this morning of RIPR’s Political Roundtable. The segment will air during Morning Edition at 5:40 and 7:40 on Friday.

Old friend (and former ProJo reporter) Mike Corkery of the Wall Street Journal has broken a very interesting Rhode Island pension story. As first picked up by the sharp-eyed Ted Nesi of WRPI_TV, Corkery’s story reveals that a Texas Enron trader billionaire is a hefty contributor to the Engage Rhode Island pension overhaul advocacy group that has been championed by State General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

The Atlantic has the latest media outbreak of Raimondomania:

Once upon a time, politicians across the land found a magical formula for achieving popularity. They kept public employees’ pay low, enabling low tax rates (hooray!); to make up for the low pay, they promised fat pensions down the road (huzzah!). The pensions were funded by gimmicks and wishful thinking. But that would be a problem for future politicians to reckon with.

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