Sarah Taft-Carter


  Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter, in a decision released Tuesday afternoon, approved the proposed settlement of Rhode Island's pension conflict.

The judge's action clears the way for the General Assembly to approve the pension deal, the last step needed for the settlement to go into effect. Taft-Carter recently held a multi-day hearing during which some current employees and retirees urged her to reject the settlement.

But the judge ruled that the deal meets the necessary legal standard for it to go forward.

Pool Photo/Kathy Borchers / The Providence Journal

A multi-day hearing to determine the fairness of the proposed state pension settlement started in Superior Court Wednesday. Fewer than 70 current state workers and retirees are expected to urge Judge Sarah Taft-Carter to reject the deal.

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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.


A settlement to Rhode Island's pension conflict may be announced Thursday.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said through his spokesman that a settlement may be at hand. The state has offered modest improvements on a settlement offer rejected last year in an attempt to end the pension dispute. Hanging in the balance is $4 billion in savings for the state pension plan.

Saying the gag order interferes with news organizations' efforts to inform the public, the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association has called on Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter to lift the order.

The gag order prevents parties to the pension lawsuit from discussing details of a proposed settlement, which is already being voted on by union members and retirees.

Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. Another hectic Friday, so we'll keep the preliminaries short while continuing to welcome your attention on the twitters. Here we go.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Former state Supreme Court justice Robert G. Flanders Jr. thinks the state will have the advantage if the legal dispute over the 2011 overhaul of Rhode Island's pension system winds up going to trial.

The judge overseeing the state pension conflict is slated to hear arguments on a number of motions Thursday.  The window for voting on a proposed settlement ends Friday.

A series of public-employee unions are suing over changes made to their benefits as part of a 2011 overhaul of the state pension system. That conflict will move ahead in court next month, unless there’s a settlement in the case.


Once again, Rhode Island politics is ensnared in a public employee pension controversy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time to put this issue in our collective rear view mirror.

It’s well past time to get beyond the noisy debate over public employee pensions in Rhode Island. It’s a joust that has ensnared  the Statehouse for more than a generation. It has long pitted the business community against public employees and their union leaders, fractured relations between conservatives and liberals and led to tortuous attempts for years to shore up the system.

File / RIPR

A legal observer says he expects the legal dispute over a 2011 overhaul of the state pension system to be settled out of court.

Roger Williams University Law School dean Michael Yelnosky said he’s fairly optimistic about the outlook for a settlement. “For a couple of reasons: one, they came so very close before; there continue to be lots of good reasons to settle on both sides,” said Yelnosky.

Efforts to settle the pension dispute fell apart in April when one of six plaintiff groups rejected a proposed deal.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter has denied a state motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the 2011 overhaul of Rhode Island’s pension system.

In her ruling, Taft-Carter found that there is “an implied in-fact contract” between the state and the public employees challenging the pension overhaul.

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.

The two sides discussing a possible settlement over the 2011 overhaul of Rhode Island’s state pension system will have a few more weeks to talk.

The two sides met Thursday afternoon with Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter. In the latest in a series of continuances, she scheduled another update on ongoing mediation in the case for September 30.

Taft-Carter ordered mediation last December after a series of public-employee unions filed a suit over the pension overhaul. The unions say the overhaul went too far in cutting benefits and violated their constitutional rights.


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

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."