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Fox says he backs “major overhaul” of pension system

September 7, 2011

Following a pension briefing this evening by two out-of-town officials at the Renaissance Providence Hotel, House Speaker Gordon Fox said “everyone should be expecting everything” when it comes to curbing Rhode Island’s $7 billion unfunded pension liability.

“I think this calls for a larger change, a big change,” Fox told reporters as the event was giving way to a post-discussion dinner. “I mean, in terms of the choices that are there . . . . who’s going to advocate to raise a billion dollars  in taxes [in increased future pension costs], or cut a billion dollars in social programs, education, the very things that we’re going need — especially education — to improve the state going forward? Those are the choices you’re dealing with.”

Fox called the choices facing lawmakers highly unpalatable.

But I think long-term going forward, if we are going to put this state in a fiscal well-being, so that, my true progressive nature coming out, we can still make those kind of investments — the future-oriented investments in education, infrastructure,  roads and bridges — those kinds of programs, I think we’re going to have to do major overhaul to this system that, for whatever reason, is just burdening this state financially. And it’s going to come in a form that everyone’s going to have to expect to maybe give something up.

Fox declined to discuss his personal thinking on how to best tackle the pension crisis.

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