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Speaker Fox says pension overhaul might be a two-step process

November 3, 2011

House Speaker Gordon Fox says the General Assembly may pass pension overhaul legislation in two steps, starting with the state retirement system and then staying in session returning in January to tackle the 36 locally managed pension plans outside MERS (the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System). [Fox spokesman Larry Berman called this afternoon to make the timing clarification in the preceding sentence.]

“That may be what comes out of this,” Fox said today during a taping of Rhode Island Public Radio’s Political Roundtable. “You know the internal dynamics — how many times can you ask your members to keep taking bites at the same issue?”

Fox continued:

These are politically charged issues, so there is some tension to get it done in one fell swoop. You have the public on notice. You have the public energized, if you will. But at the same time you want to do it right. So that [two-step approach] may well, very well, be where we end up coming, sort of a bifurcated process with this.

In related news, Fox said “you have to address” the contentious COLA and retirement age issues for an effective pension overhaul, since they’re such significant factors in the state’s unfunded liability. He says talks are ongoing.

I’ll have more from our conversation later in today’s Rhode Island Tip Sheet.

Political Roundtable airs Friday during RIPR’s Morning Edition at 5:40 and 7:40 and online.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mister Guy permalink
    November 3, 2011 11:10 pm

    “Fox said ‘you have to address’ the contentious COLA and retirement age issues for an effective pension overhaul, since they’re such significant factors in the state’s unfunded liability.”

    By Raimondo’s own numbers, only around $1 Billion of the projected $6.8-9 Billion unfunded RI pension system liability (which is based on a number of factors that no one knows for sure how they’ll shake out in the future) is due to the COLA issue, which is only 11-15% of the projected problem. It’s simply *not* a “significant factor in the state’s unfunded liability”, period.

    The current proposed changes that would affect the local retirement plans, which are in *much* worse shape than the MERS, really aren’t going to fix anything. At a minimum, RI localities need to be a lot smarter when they negotiate with unions on their pension systems.


  1. Rhode Island Tip Sheet: Talking pensions with Speaker Fox « On Politics
  2. Outlook uncertain on non-MERS pensions « On Politics

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