Raimondo fires back at criticism from mayors on locally run pensions
State Treasurer Gina Raimondo is responding to criticism from mayors about what they call shortcomings in her approach with Governor Lincoln Chafee to correcting severely underfunded locally managed pensions.
Raimondo pointed to the 10 months she spent crafting a proposal to address the state pension system. The same rigor, she said, should go into studying and responding to the locally managed pensions:
You can not solve a problem if you do not know the size. Now if a mayor, any mayor, let’s say Mayor [Angel] Taveras of Providence, decides it is an absolutely urgent problem to fix, for example, the firefighter pensions in Providence, then he should do that right now.
He could pass an ordinance right now to fix that problem, and that ordinance would face the identical legal challenges to a state statute.
As a prudent executive in the state system, I’m saying we need time to further study and lay the groundwork. If the mayor disagrees, and he’s the mayor, he knows better than anyone, is there a compelling state interest to move forward now, I’d encourage him to do that.
Raimondo made the statement during a taping of RIPR’s Political Roundtable.
The treasurer, a former venture capitalist, also offered her reaction to the Occupy movement and the US Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute a co-founder of Countrywide Financial. Naturally, she found a way to tie the topic to pensions:
I think there is work to be done to police financial regulation. It’s not at all a surprise to me that we have protests on Wall Street. One of the greatest problems facing this country is income inequality, and that’s why I’ve dedicated my life and the past year to fixing the pension — because we need jobs.
If you don’t want Wall Street to be occupied, you need good-paying jobs with good benefits, and we need that in Rhode Island right now.
Roundtable airs Friday at 5:40 and 7:40 am and online.