Pension Reform Takes Hostages (In Addition to Taxpayers) For Ransom: Current Employees Must Continue to Contribute To The Retirement Fund for The Sake of Retirees

On Friday, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo sat down for an interview with WPRI on Rhode Island’s Subject Du Jour. The indefatigable Ted Nesi is posting it in three parts on WPRI’s blog. This morning, he released Part Two, which brings into focus the burden which current public employees would carry under the pension reform plan proposed by the General Treasurer and the Governor. [Emphasis added.]

Raimondo acknowledged the proposed hybrid plan in her bill still won’t allow younger workers to opt out of participating in the state pension program. “We need younger people to continue to pay into the system,” she said, or it won’t have enough money to cover the unfunded liability for retirees and older workers.
But the treasurer noted the share of an employee’s 8.75% paycheck contribution that currently goes into the pension fund would drop to 3.75% under the bill, with the rest going into an individual retirement account, a bit like a 401k.

On his program Friday, WPRO’s John Depetro and I discussed and and then disagreed about the adequacy of the adjustment – solely a suspension of the COLA – that would be made to the pensions of current retirees and vestees under the proposed reform plan. I contended that it was not big (meaning sufficient); he emphatically stated that it was.
I stand by my view. COLA’s are dessert to the six course meal that comprises a public pension in this state. Their suspension is a very good first step. But more needs to be done because Rhode Island still cannot afford the meal itself! With $4.3 billion of the $7.3 billion shortfall not addressed, we’re still looking at tax hikes EVEN IF the local pension shortfalls and the unfunded retirement health coverage on both the state and local level are wished away.
Now add to that the clarification that current public employees must divert some of their earnings away from their own retirement and towards the state’s moribund (okay, 60% moribund if this pension reform is passed) pension system for the benefit of retirees and vestees.
All the more is it clear that, with this pension reform proposal, not enough has been done to adjust the extremely generous pension benefits promised by elected officials who, over the decades, put their cognitive capacity (heh) into gear just long enough to solicit and deposit campaign contributions from the future beneficiaries of those promises but then threw it into neutral and walked away from the vital matter of fulfilling those promises.

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11 years ago

One of the 2 raises they rec’d this year should cover that just fine otherwise they’ll get another raise to cover it.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
11 years ago

Of course this plan doesn’t go as far as it could or should.
Given that taxpayers have willingly endured one party rule for longer than the Soviet Union and just elected a Governor running to the LEFT of the Democrat, do we deserve any better?
The increased retirement ages, cuts to the “disability” scam, near extermination of the COLA and halving of the defined benefit are reforms nothing short of remarkable. If Carcieri had proposed this he may well have been assasinated by a leftist or union pig.
Did anyone here really think say 5 years ago that teachers would be dealt a retirement age of 67? Or cops and even the crybaby firemen hit with 55, an age which even the non-Mers cities are now going to be pressured to match?

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