Promises Unkeepable

There it is on the front page:

The promises that Rhode Island and its cities and towns have made to their current and future retirees without putting money aside carry a dollar figure that is big enough to buy 345,588 Ford Mustang GTs, 47,000 houses priced at the state median or several hundred of the finest mansions along the state’s coast.
Put another way, the state’s unfunded retirement obligations add up to about $9,400 per Rhode Island resident.
All told, those promises come with a price tag of $9.4 billion — a number revealed for the first time in a report to be released Wednesday by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

That bit of news dovetails perfectly with a recent op-ed that I’d intended to mention, today, by RI Senate candidate for district 35, Dawson Hodgson:

Hard-working and dedicated government employees deserve a compensation and retirement structure comparable to that of their fellow citizens. In some cases, such as police and firefighters who risk their safety to protect ours, they even deserve a little bit more. All they have now, however, is an illusion that has been sold to them by irresponsible politicians. A deal that can’t be kept is no deal at all. We owe these employees and our taxpayers a contemporary and competitive benefit structure within the confines of what we can afford.

Among the problems that government faces is that, when it tries to commit future generations to make specific (and imbalanced) payments, those generations don’t have much reason to feel as if they have ownership of the promises made. Another problem that Rhode Island has, especially, is that those younger folks can just leave, making the promises even harder to keep.

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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

“In some cases, such as police and firefighters who risk their safety to protect ours, they even deserve a little bit more.”
That certainly applies in spades to our military. Why is it that police and fireman do so much better than retired military?

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

OBTW, There are a number of more dangerous occupations than police and fire. Lumberjacks, fishermen, ironworkers just to name a few. Police and fire come in 14th and 17th in the list of jobs where you are likely to be killed or injured on the job.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

Instead of each RI citizen forking over $9,400 to fully fund the pension, I think the public employees should start a class action lawsuit against every current and former RI Assembly member and Treasurer since the pension was last fully funded. They screwed it up, let them pay it.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Patrick,
Great idea! I wonder if public pensions (GA Members) are subject to attachement?

chuckR
chuckR
11 years ago

Put another way, the state’s unfunded retirement obligations add up to about $9,400 per Rhode Island resident.
what do you mean, “we”, kemosabe?
I amy or may not be joking, but a lot of people aren’t. Like Ken in HI, for example.

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

chuckR
Actually I will become one of those workers being owed a monthly pension from my days working with municipal and state government.
I have to wait till I turn 65 in order to collect and I will not get the 3% COLA but it will be an unbelievable sum of about $1,200 a month before taxes. Very generous wouldn’t you all say!
OBTW I pay for my own healthcare insurance which is $100/mo cheaper in HI than in RI.
That is why you invest on your own to take care of yourself in retirement and move to a state that provides tax relief to seniors.

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