NEA’s Walsh: Taft-Carter decision should lead to “thoughtful pause” on pension reform
The decision released this morning by Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter — that employees participating in the state retirement system have an implied contract right — marks a big victory for public-employee unions.
Robert Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, offered this reaction:
We’re obviously very pleased with Judge Taft-Carter’s decision. What it means . . . . is that we get to have our day in court to talk about the implications of those contract rights vis-a-vis the changes that have already been made in the legislature . . . . What that means for the news stories of the last several weeks and several months on further changes to the pension system is that a thoughtful pause is called for.
It would be foolhardy for the governor and the treasurer to submit legislation calling for further changes when it is not clear that the changes that have already been made pass legal muster. So I would strongly suggest that we take that thoughtful pause and let the lawsuit proceed, and see what can be done and what cannot be done to pensions.
There was no immediate reaction to the decision from the Chafee administration or Treasurer Gina Raimondo.
Following her briefing to the state Senate, Raimondo yesterday downplayed the potential significance of the pending Taft-Carter decision, because of the inevitable appeals.