An early start for a top issue in 2012: the fight over local pensions
Today is the first business day of 2012 and we’re already seeing action on what promises to be one of the top political stories of the year — the effort to shore up severely underfunded locally managed pensions in Providence and elsewhere.
A hearing in Providence Superior Court was set to begin at 10 this morning on a lawsuit by the police and fire
unions retirees’ association against the City of Providence’s plan to move retirees into Medicare.
The City of Providence plans to roll out former state auditor Ernest Almonte as its star witness in making the “public purpose” argument that changes to certain benefits are justified.
The case is being heard by Judge Sarah Taft-Carter, who offered an early win to public-employee unions in their pension-related lawsuit against the state. The Providence case promises to be an indicator of how much flexibility cities and towns can exert in changing previously promised benefits.
Meanwhile, today marks the opening session of the General Assembly for 2012. Speaker Gordon Fox has said he favors tackling the issue of local pensions this year. But with 36 locally administered pensions in 24 communities, the devil will most assuredly be in the details of how the legislature approaches this issue (in an election year, to boot).