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Chafee poised to introduce bill with “tools” for aiding struggling cities and towns

March 11, 2012

Governor Lincoln Chafee is expected later this week to unveil his long-anticipated bill for aiding municipalities struggling with unsustainable pension costs and other fiscal challenges.

Chafee has established a strong constituency among mayors like Angel Taveras, Allan Fung, Don Grebien and Joseph Polisena, and Taveras has figured prominently in Chafee’s campaign-style messaging on municipal finance. But the governor has been tardy in following through on his pledge last year to introduce a bill to help cities and towns on the first day of the legislative session.

Chafee spokeswoman Christine Hunsinger wouldn’t specify when the bill will be introduced, or what it will specifically include. But she says it will offer “tools” meant to aid cities and towns — including some of what mayors requested during a January strategy session with Chafee.

An item high on the wish-list of Taveras and some other mayors is enabling legislation giving them cover to suspend cost of living adjustments in local pensions.Yet even if such a measure was to win General Assembly approval — and that’s very uncertain — it might come too late to help Providence with its current money crunch.

Speaking last week on Rhode Island Public Radio’s Political Roundtable, state Representative Jon Brien (D-Woonsocket), chairman of the House Municipal Finance Committee, said he plans to “quarterback” efforts to help municipalities to rein in their pension costs. Brien said he sees the state Senate as a potential obstacle to the legislation.

That’s not surprising, since Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said back in January that mayors struggling with local pension problems shouldn’t expect her chamber to support a “quick fix.”

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Mister Guy permalink
    March 12, 2012 7:48 am

    “An item high on the wish-list of Taveras and some other mayors is enabling legislation giving them cover to suspend cost of living adjustments in local pensions”

    …which won’t stand up in court…ugh… RI localities need more state aid restored to cities & towns…not a bunch of “quick fixes” that will just raise the amount of money that localities will waste in court defending basically the defenseless.

  2. March 13, 2012 12:53 pm

    RI localities need more state aid restored to cities & towns…not a bunch of “quick fixes” that will just raise the amount of money that localities will waste in court defending basically the defenseless.

    Where is that going to come from?

    k

    • Mister Guy permalink
      March 13, 2012 6:33 pm

      Probably from raising taxes on the rich, permanently.

  3. robert benson permalink
    March 13, 2012 1:36 pm

    Restructuring via Chapter 9 is the only way cities like Woonsocket and Providence can solve their financial problems and implement things like suspending COLAs enshrined in CBAs. All Taveras has to do is ask the Legislature to appoint hin as receiver, and he can balance the city budget in one week. Bankruptcy is not a dirty word. It is the only way to solve these problems

    • Mister Guy permalink
      March 13, 2012 6:36 pm

      Yes, bankruptcy *is* a dirty word. Want to completely ruin your credit rating for a long time to come? Go bankrupt…it’s simple.

      Taveras could balance his City’s budget in one week now, if he wasn’t so focused on fear-mongering politics.

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