COLA wars: Hassett and Igliozzi take on Taveras
If it wasn’t already clear, the fight over the fate of the Providence pension overhaul passed Monday by the City Council is starting to look more and more like trench warfare — if not “a huge game of chicken.”
A prime example is the decision by two of the longtime councilors who backed the unanimous overhaul — Finance chairman John Igliozzi and Terry Hassett — to march off in a different direction. Both say they now preserving some kind of COLA for at least some police and firefighters.
But they’re taking on the best-liked pol in Rhode Island in Providence Mayor Angel Taveras (on a day when’s at the White House, no less). It’s worth remembering, too, how public opinion shifted the momentum last year in favor of the pension overhaul backed by the General Assembly.
Igliozzi and Hassett say they’ve reflected on their pension overhaul vote on Monday, regret it, and don’t want to abandon hard-working police and firefighters. That’s about as detailed as they’re getting in explaining why they no longer support something that they did three days ago. Igliozzi told me:
Regret is abundant. It’s clear that what we might have thought was good is not turning out to be what it should be. It was too draconian.
The two councillors say police and firefighters deserve consideration for COLAs since they don’t receive Social Security. They plan to back an amendment to change the situation. The specifics aren’t clear, but they seem to favor preserving COLAs for police and firefighters below a certain threshhold.
Taveras says he’s disappointed in Igliozzi and Hassett, and will fight any effort to weaken the pension overhaul.
UPDATE: Council President Michael Solomon says he’s not concerned that other councillors will join with Hassett and Igliozzi. He calls for the council to stand behind its overhaul of an unsustainable pension plan:
For the last 30 years, this can has been kicked down the road, and now it’s landed on our lap and obviously, we acted on it. I mean, it took courage from the council – two unanimous votes – to pass it. It’s all about preserving the pension system for future retirees.