Ward: “Whether Walsh likes it or not, the party is coming to an end.”
“We are never going to compete with folks, with employers who are so ridiculous they do not provide retirement security plans for their employees….If they don’t, they are terrible people and they shouldn’t be allowed to exist and that’s always going to be the union position on those issues.” ~ Bob Walsh
If Walsh’s comments are a true reflection of what small business and honest taxpayers are up against, we should all sell our businesses to others and leave. Really. Obviously, Walsh wouldn’t mind if we left – or died. Saturday’s story centered around Rhode Island’s overly generous pension system, showing how our state pays far more to retirees than other New England states. How, for instance, a 55-year-old Rhode Island retiree with 30 years of service, having earned $57,000 per year at retirement, would receive $37,620 per year – with annual raises for life – in his retirement. The same Vermont retiree would receive $24,966. Over the normal lifetime of the two retirees, the Rhode Islander would be paid almost $1 million more than his counterpart in Vermont.
Walsh doesn’t like the reform talk, and seems to harbor some lingering bitterness over the state pension reforms put in place a few years ago that already save taxpayers millions each year….
Let me explain something to you, Mr. Walsh. You only have money for the rich pensions because you and your friends in the General Assembly have been given the power to confiscate our money. You don’t earn anything. You don’t create any wealth. You just take what you need, and when you come up short – like now – you just try to take more. In polite company, it’s called “taxation,” but you and I know it’s just greed.
I and my hard-working employees, on the other hand, have to go out and earn our customers’ money every day. And our customers have to go out and earn their customers money every day. When we fail, we go out of business. No pension. No safety net. We don’t get to confiscate anybody’s money to keep our sorry boat afloat. You can – and do.
All across Rhode Island, business is suffering today. We are the wealth creators, working long hours and risking it all to run a business against all the obstacles you and your friends place in our way. If we eventually succumb to the state’s jack-booted thuggery, we stop filling your wallets. Get it? We don’t succeed with you. We succeed despite you.
And despite having our state leaders picking our pockets with new fees and taxes at every turn, many of us provide the 401 (k) pension plans we can afford for our employees. For that, you call us “terrible people.” What a disgraceful comment, Mr. Walsh.
Ward also gives an example on par with the example I gave regarding former Providence Administrator John Simmons’ pending pension.
A few years ago, Macera was Woonsocket’s assistant superintendent, earning on average $103,000 per year for her final three years of service in that post. Three years ago, she was promoted to superintendent. Upon her promotion, she called for the elimination of the assistant superintendent’s post, asking the School Committee to fold those duties into her own and asking for a much larger compensation. The School Committee agreed, and in the past three years, Macera earned $152,900 in year 1, $162,900 in year 2, and now earns $172,900 this year.
In Rhode Island, a pensioner like Macera, with more than 35 years service, receives 80 percent of their highest three years’ pay.
Union leaders like Walsh keep complaining that we just don’t understand; that pensioners have to pay into the system. In fact, he’s correct and Macera and others pay 9.5 percent of their pay into the pension system.
Was it a good investment for her? You decide.
Had Macera retired as assistant superintendent three years ago with a top three-year average pay of $103,000, she would have a pension of $82,400 per year.
Instead, she took the promotion and worked for a new three-year average wage of about $163,000. Her annual pension now? $130,320. For those of you without a nearby calculator, that’s $2,506 per week. Oh yeah, she gets a 3 percent raise (about $75 per week) every year, too.
If you do the math, you’ll learn that as superintendent Macera paid an extra $17,100 into the state pension system in her final three years. Her return? An extra $48,000 per year in her pension. She’ll have all her money back in four months. Should she live 20 years she’ll take away more than one million extra dollars for her $17,000 investment.