pensions

Democratic Treasurer candidate Seth Magaziner joins Bonus Q+A to talk about his campaign a host of other issues, including pension management, hedge funds, using the treasurer's office to create jobs, and whether being 30 is an advantage or a disadvantage as a candidate.

Here's how a Rolling Stone headline sums up muckraker Matt Taibbi's story on the pension overhaul championed in Rhode Island by state Treasurer Gina Raimondo in 2011: "Looting Pension Funds. All Across America, Wall Street is grabbing money meant for public workers."

The first comment from Raimondo comes eight pages into the story, the equivalent of an 11-page printout, after Taibbi presents his case in his signature profanity-laden style.

RIPR FILE

Mediation is set to continue over the challenge by a series of public-employee unions to an overhaul of the state pension system in 2011.

The outcome of the case has big implications for the state.The two sides in the pension case have repeatedly asked for more time to mediate their differences. Following another such request, the next update is slated before Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter on September 5th. Taft-Carter was the one who ordered mediation in the case last December.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

An audit shows that six state retirees received a combined overpayment of almost 560-thousand dollars in disability pensions. The state retirement system is working with law enforcement to determine whether to pursue criminal or civil charges against the individuals.

In a statement, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo said the retirees received the overpayments between 2001 and the end of 2011. Raimondo, who chairs the state Retirement Board, said disability pensions have been suspended for the six individuals.

Six people with disability pensions through the state retirement system received almost $560,000 in overpayments, an audit shows.

The findings were announced by state Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who chairs the state Retirement Board. She says they were revealed by the Employees' Retirement System of Rhode Island (ERSRI) and the auditing firm of Sullivan & Company.

Raimondo says the overpayments took place between 2001 and the end of 2011.

AFSCME's Council 94, the largest union of state public employees, has hired pension expert Edward "Ted" Siedle, whose Forbes.com piece in April sparked debate about state Treasurer Gina Raimondo's heightened allocation of hedge funds in the $7 billion state pension fund.

With the aftermath of this week's Boston Marathon attack remaining in the forefront of headlines, we're keeping the focus on politics in my Friday column. Thanks for stopping by; as always, your tips and thoughts are welcome at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung joins Bonus Q+A to talk about why he's a Republican, his potential race for governor next year, and what Rhode Island should do to improve its economy, among other issues.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung joins the Roundtable this week to discuss the aftermath of the attack at the Boston Marathon, the merits of negotiated pension settlements, his potential gubernatorial campaign next year, and other issues.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

In what Providence Mayor Angel Taveras calls a historic day, Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter gave final approval Friday for a deal that will reduce the capital city's $900 million+ unfunded pension liability by $178 million. The agreement followed negotiations between the city and police and fire unions and municipal retirees.

"Today is the end of a long, long road that we've traveled," Taveras said in an interview. "I feel a lot of relief and gratitude to all the employees and retirees especially who have agreed to help the city."

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras' latest State of the City speech celebrates the value of overcoming complex problems through collaboration -- a not-so-subtle contrast with the state pension overhaul championed in 2011 by the mayor's prospective Democratic gubernatorial rival  in 2014, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

In comments Tuesday evening to the City Council, Taveras notes the contrast to February 2012 when "Providence was running out of cash, and running out of time. In the months that followed, there were some who said Providence could not avoid filing for bankruptcy."

Moody’s Investors Service is giving Providence mixed comments on its fiscal condition.

Moody’s says an audit revealing a $15 million Providence deficit for the last fiscal year could hurt the city’s credit rating. But it says Providence now has a balanced budget, and it calls that a sign of progress toward restored fiscal stability.

Mayor Angel Taveras inherited a $110 million deficit when he took office in 2011. Moody’s says a series of previous deficits caused by state aid cuts leave Providence little room for error if other revenue gets squeezed.

Rhode Island’s $7 billion+ pension fund — which is banking on an expected rate of return of 7.5 percent to pay its long-term obligations — earned just 1.4 percent over the fiscal year that ended June 30.

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who chairs the state Investment Commission and sparked the move last year to lower the pension fund’s expected rate of return, says she doesn’t think the state’s expected 7.5 percent rate of return is too optimistic. In an interview, she said:

Rhode Island’s $7 billion+ pension fund — which is banking on an expected rate of return of 7.5 percent to pay its long-term obligations — earned just 1.4 percent over the fiscal year that ended June 30.

State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who chairs the state Investment Commission and sparked the move last year to lower the pension fund’s expected rate of return, says she doesn’t think the state’s expected 7.5 percent rate of return is too optimistic. In an interview, she said:

The Rhode Island Supreme Court has declined a state motion to stay the big pension case pending before Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter. Via news release:

In the matter of Rhode Island Public Employees’ Retiree Coalition et al v. Lincoln Chafee et al, the Supreme Court today declined to intervene in the union and coalition lawsuits against the state regarding the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011.

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