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.
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.