What everyone in the Rhode Island political swirl should understand about the state pension overhaul settlement details that are due for release tomorrow: This is very likely to be only the beginning of a protracted process.
One thing we know for sure. Even if it is fair and reasonable, not everyone is going to like it. Some unionized state employees and teachers will not be satisfied with anything less than a full restoration of the pension benefits that were sliced dramatically in the 2011 special General Assembly pension session.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee, State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Tersea Paiva Weed met privately at the State House this afternoon for a 90-minute closed-door briefing on the proposed state pension overhaul legal settlement.
The settlement details are scheduled to be released on Wednesday. The parties to the pension lawsuit have been under a gag order by Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter for more than a year. None of the state officials in today’s meeting disclosed any settlement details.
The state Senate on Tuesday afternoon unveiled a new plan meant to close a skills gap in Rhode Island. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said the “Rhode to Work” plan is a response to business leaders’ complaints that they’re having trouble finding skilled workers.
The plan calls for creating a single workforce training system; improving adult education; and expanding the number of internships and apprenticeships in Rhode Island.
Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed sat down prior to the start of the new General Assembly session to discuss top issues facing the state, including the economy; the growing cost of paying back investors in 38 Studios, Sakonnet River Bridge tolls, voter ID, and more.
House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed each say they intend to seek another term at the top of their respective chambers in 2015, provided they win re-election to their legislative seats next November.
In related news, Fox and Paiva Weed sounded different notes on the issue of repaying investors in failed video-game maker 38 Studios. The tab for taxpayers is set to increase in 2014 to $12.5 million dollars, up from $2.5 million in 2013 -- a factor that may resound in legislative elections in the new year.
In the aftermath of last year’s Newtown school shootings, Rhode Island politicians leaped on the gun control bandwagon. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders what’s happened since.
After last December’s horrific school massacre in Connecticut, political leaders from the White House to the Rhode Island State House vowed to crack down on gun violence. Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed all advocated measures to advance gun control in our state.
Every year, when Rhode Island lawmakers start working on a new budget, they face a spending plan mired in red ink. By law, the budget must be balanced by the end of the legislative session, usually in June. But like a boomerang, projected budget deficits zoom back to Smith Hill by the time the new session starts in January. Next year will no different -- Rhode Island already faces the fiscal year starting in July 2014 with an estimated $149 million hole. And the state lacks a plan for overcoming budget deficits that are projected to get far worse with time.
Former Secretary of State and public television executive Susan Farmer has died after a long fight with cancer.
Farmer became the first woman elected to statewide office when she won an election for secretary of state in 1982. Former Providence Journal political columnist M. Charles Bakst said Farmer was the leader in a wave of GOP women winning political office.
“Republicans led the way in this state. Five of the first six women who were elected to office were Republicans,” said Bakst. “She was a liberal Republican. In her day, that was the thing to be.”