More debate on Rhode Island pension settlement - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather


More debate on Rhode Island pension settlement

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

Stakeholders in Rhode Island's proposed pension settlement have been reading through the fine print of the deal.

Among those benefiting, firefighters with 25 years service can now retire at age 50, instead of 55.

"I believe that most people, when they hit their 50s, have picked up some orthopedic problems, or just where and tear on the body and certainly this is the type of the job that increases wear and tear on the body," said Paul Reed, President of the Rhode Island state Firefighters Association.

Firefighters - like many state pensioners- also picked up some financial benefits.

But critics say that will mean at least $24 million dollars this year in additional payments from average taxpayers.

"The state budget is already looking at north of 1$100 million dollars deficit every year. None of the cities and towns have any surpluses. Where is it going to be paid for?" said Monique Chartier of the Rhode Island Taxpayers Association.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "There is an interesting dynamic here. The General Assembly and organized labor must approve the deal. But it doesn't say who has to vote first."

Already the leaders from teachers, state workers and firefighters want their members to vote "yes" regardless of what lawmakers do.

"We have a lot of support, but this will be a hot button issue in an election year," said Paul Reed of the Firefighters Union.

Still others want the General Assembly to say "no."

"Reject this deal. Reject this deal. Let it go to litigation. Let the chips fall where they may. (Q: And let the court decide?) "Let the court decide. That's what should have happened in the first place, absolutely," said Monique Chartier of the Rhode Island Taxpayers Association.

And if any party says "no," it does in fact go back to court.

Late Monday House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed issued a joint-statement saying that the General Assembly would not vote on the settlement, until the sic state employee union groups voted on the proposed settlement.



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