Historic Pension Reform Plan Revealed - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Historic Pension Reform Plan Revealed

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It's a dramatic plan to overhaul Rhode Island's pension system.   The historic bill was presented to the House and Senate Tuesday night at the state house.     

Governor Chafee and State Treasurer Raimondo came together on the issue after 10 months of work.

There's about 200 pages of changes to the state's pension plan in the bill. The changes will affect more than 50 thousand past and present government workers. If passed, they'll see a big rollback in their benefits.        

The bill was delivered to state lawmakers in a historic special legislative session. In it, three major moves that would dramatically change the way the state deals with pensions.

"It is fair to taxpayers, fair to every Rhode Islander because it holds steady the current cost of the pension system, and it will not require tax increases or service cuts in order to fund the pension," said State Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

State workers and public teachers would get a new hybrid, part pension, part 401k plan. Their retirement age would increase to as high as age 67. Plus  they'd see their cost of living increases frozen for up to 19 years.

"It is being balanced on the back of senior retirees, and when they talk about fairness, this is not fair," said AARP State Director Kathleen Connell.

Under this proposal, current retirees will not be losing any of the pension they've already earned. Although,  Connell said she doesn't know how retirees will make ends meet.

 "It will be devastating to a number of the people who have already retired," said Connell, "They can't go back and change their life decisions. They can't go out and get a job in many instances. They have to live with what this number is for ten, fifteen years."  

Raimondo said something has to be done to cut down on the unsustainable pension costs. "It is our obligation to act now," said Raimondo, "It is our responsibility to commit to a reform that fixes this problem forever."

The General Assembly has to pass this plan. This is just the first step of pension reform. There's no guarantee it'll go through as is. Union leaders tell us you can count on them taking legal action.

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