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More national ink for Rhode Island’s economic woes

July 25, 2011

The financial struggles of Central Falls and Rhode Island’s pension crisis continue to get attention beyond the Ocean State. 

First up, The Bond Buyer does a comparison-contrast between Central Falls and the struggling capital city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:

One major factor binds Harrisburg, Pa., and Central Falls, R.I. Their states recently took preemptive moves hoping either to ward off a bankruptcy filing by the cities or, in Rhode Island’s case, to avert “contagion,” or a domino effect, of downgrades statewide, or even that of the state itself.

“Harrisburg and Central Falls are happening at the same time, and in both cases, their states passed legislation almost on the fly to shore up the situation and help the cities work it through,” said Alan Schankel, head of fixed-income research and strategy for Janney Capital Markets.

Elsewhere, former ProJo scribe Michael Corkery writes in the Wall Street Journal about Gina Raimondo and RI’s pension woes:

Across the nation, state officials wrestling with budget woes are pushing through cuts in public-sector pensions, saying there is no alternative to immediate financial pain. Ms. Raimondo, a Democrat, is taking a softer approach.

Instead of breaking ranks with labor allies to win a round of pension cuts now, as elected officials in New Jersey did recently, Ms. Raimondo has been trying for months to persuade workers, unions and taxpayers to support a top-to-bottom overhaul of Rhode Island’s pension system that she says will fix the plan for decades to come.

If she succeeds, the tiny state will plug one of the most gigantic pension holes in the U.S. If she fails, the financial hole could get even deeper.

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