Pension reform passes, cities and towns left out

What was left out of the pension law, help for cities and towns who are also facing major pension liabilities.     

Mayors are begging for a lifeline. The  mayor of Cranston said his city could face serious tax hikes if something isn't done.

Here's a little perspective, Cranston's yearly budget is 245 million dollars, the same amount its pension fund is short.

“It's a lingering problem and what we were trying to do with the amendments was trying to save it so it's not all put on the taxpayers of Cranston, whether through monumental tax increases or severe reduction in services,” said Cranston Mayor Allan Fung.

But only one of the amendments cities and towns wanted made it into the pension reform bill, which will save Cranston 11 million dollars next year.  But Mayor Fung said that's not enough.

“We're going to need the help from the state because one of the difficult parts about the local pension problem is at least in Cranston, many of the benefits are in contract,” said Fung.

Which means if any changes are made, like suspending cost of living raises or increasing the retirement age, there could be a lawsuit and Cranston can't afford that.     

These issues will go before lawmakers in January, and State Treasurer Gina Raimondo, one of the architect's of the pension reform law, said the state won't ignore the problems facing cities and towns.

But Mayor Fung and taxpayers in Cranston aren't convinced. “If two cities and towns in the state, the first one being Central Falls and then East Providence aren't enough of a sign we needed the help immediately , I don't know what will be.”

Unions have always said if lawmakers passed pension reform they'd sue.  No word yet if that'll happen.