Rhode Island City Leaders Asking State For Pension Help

                A coalition of mayors across the state are drafting their own plan to fix Rhode Island's 7-billion dollar un-funded pension liability. They'll be presenting that plan tomorrow and it could change the outcome of the heavily debated legislation.

               Cranston Mayor Allen Fung says Rhode Island's cities make up 2 billion of the states shortfall, a portion he says shouldn't be ignored. He says he needs the states help in negotiating a solution, or his taxpayers are going to get hit hard.

               The proposed pension law would require communities to study their pension plans and develop 10-year plans to fix them. Something Fung says he can't do on his own.  On Tuesday, the mayors are expected to ask legislators for three tools to address their plans. Suspending yearly cost-of-living increases, limiting pension benefits to what's available under state plans, and eventually moving all municipal employees into state-run plans.

                Fung says “once they're retired there is no union to negotiate with.” He says he needs the states help in re-working the contracts of their 440 retirees who's plans they can no longer afford.

                 President of Cranston's Firefighters Union, Paul Valletta Jr., says retirees pensions shouldn't be touched. He says they've worked for that money and the city is to blame for the shortfall.

                 Valletta says “if the city had funded their end of the bargain we'd be in good shape. If the city had put our contributions, our weekly contributions into the fund, we'd be in great shape but they didn't do either one of those.”

                 Mayor Fung says he's not asking to wipe out benefits for retirees, but he says there is no way to make up the gap without the retirees help.

               “we cant even make changes to 55 employees to save the plan I really have to have an impact on the retirees.”