RI pension overhaul

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Rhode Island is gaining notice as a contender in the high-stakes battle over General Electric's possible relocation from Connecticut, thanks to the state pension overhaul spearheaded by Governor Gina Raimondo in 2011.

Aaron Read / RIPR

When she was Rhode Island’s state general treasurer, Gina Raimondo led a successful campaign to overhaul the state’s pension system. As she pursues a controversial truck tolling policy, RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders why she is not taking a chapter from her treasurer’s book now.

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A multi-day hearing to assess the fairness of the state’s proposed pension settlement is scheduled to start Wednesday in Superior Court. Most of the public employees involved in the case have already approved the settlement.

Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter last month set a timeline for moving ahead with the pension deal. About 65 people with concerns about the settlement have asked to speak in front of the judge.

The so-called fairness hearing is expected to last three to five days. The hearing will begin with expert testimony about each side of the pension case.

John Bender / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo marked her 100th day in office Thursday. Raimondo is taking part in several events to mark the occasion.

    

Along with two other appearances, Governor Raimondo is celebrating the 100th anniversary of two northern Rhode Island businesses, Yacht Club Soda and Navigant Credit Union.

Raimondo won election in November as the state’s first female governor. Since taking office, she’s dealt with severe winter weather and touted her proposed budget as a way to revitalize Rhode Island’s economy.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Documents to formalize a settlement of the state pension lawsuit were filed Monday in Superior Court . The settlement faces several hurdles to be completed.

Lawyers announced in court earlier this month that most public employee unions and retirees had agreed to a proposed settlement to the legal challenge over Rhode Island’s 2011 pension overhaul. The attorneys are now following up by filing documents outlining the agreement.

The proposed settlement of Rhode Island’s pension conflict is slated for discussion Wednesday by the state retirement board.

An agenda for the meeting indicates the Employees Retirement System may discuss the pension issue during a closed executive session.

A settlement to end most of the court challenges to the 2011 overhaul of the state pension system was unveiled last Thursday. Governor Gina Raimondo says the deal preserves more than 90 percent of the savings from the 2011 overhaul.

The next court update on the settlement process is slated for Monday.

RIPR FILE

Public employees in Rhode Island are scheduled to vote next week on a proposed deal to settle a lawsuit over Rhode Island’s pension overhaul.  The settlement could save the state as much as $4 billion dollars in payments to retired state employees.  It could also have benefits for union members.  Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis talks details with RIPR's Elisabeth Harrison.

Oh,  the delicious ironies of Rhode Island politics: Gov. Gina Raimondo posed with a flock of mayors and local officials this afternoon to tout her new executive order that is meant to help Rhode Island cities and towns save money.

As part of her executive order, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, the former Cumberland mayor, will lead an effort to talk to municipal leaders and get their ideas for saving taxpayer dollars, according to RIPR’s report by our political reporter, the intrepid Ian Donnis.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island’s Democratic General Assembly leaders want to exempt pensions and social security from state income taxes. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if this makes sense in our cash-strapped state government.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, have both said that one of their top priorities when the Assembly convenes in January is legislation that would end income taxes on pensions and social security.

RIPR FILE

Is Rhode Island government finally waking up to leveraging state colleges as wellsprings of economic development? RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay sees some hopeful signs on Smith Hill.

After years of malign neglect of Rhode Island’s public colleges and universities, the General Assembly finally appears to be turning a corner. Several elements in the state budget approved last week by the House Finance Committee show that Statehouse politicians are finally getting the message on the iron link between education and creating jobs in the Ocean State.

RIPR FILE

When will Rhode Islanders stop debating public employee pensions? Rhode Island Public Radio's political analyst Scott MacKay says that won’t happen anytime soon.

You can hear political analyst Scott MacKay’s commentary every Monday during Morning Edition on Rhode Island Public Radio.

When will Rhode Islanders stop debating public employee pensions? RIPR political analyst  Scott MacKay says that won’t happen anytime soon.

As if the 2014 Rhode Island election campaigns won’t provide enough grist for everyone’s political mill, here comes the vote on the proposed public employee pension settlement crafted by their union leaders, Gov. Lincoln Chafee and State General Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

RIPR FILE

In the famous words of Yogi Berra, `it ain’t over till its over.’ RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains why that’s the case with the latest twist in Rhode Island’s public employee pension settlement.

In many a long legal  battle, a settlement reached out of court marks the end of a contentious lawsuit. The opposing parties shake hands and sometimes share an odd drop. Then they put the dispute behind them.

In the famous words of Yogi Berra, `it ain’t over till its over.’ RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains why that’s the case with the latest twist in Rhode Island’s public employee pension settlement.

In many a long legal  battle, a settlement reached out of court marks the end of a contentious lawsuit. The opposing parties shake hands and sometimes share an odd drop. Then they put the dispute behind them.

In most protracted court battles, a settlement reached after tortuous year-long negotiations marks the end of a lawsuit and allows the parties to move forward. Often the lawyers celebrate and perhaps even share an odd drop together.

That wasn’t the case Friday. The  proposed legal settlement between the state and the unions that represent public school teachers and state employees and retirees is just the beginning of a cumbersome ratification process that is sure to become ensnared in what is shaping up as a contentious political campaign season in Rhode Island.

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