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NEW: Fox and Binder Battle Over Pension Reform

Monday, October 22, 2012

 

House Speaker Gordon Fox is taking his Independent opponent Mark Binder to task for refusing to offer an opinion on the state’s pension overhaul last year during a taping of WPRI’s Newsmakers last week.

“Mr. Binder was unable to articulate a position on one of the most important fiscal reforms in Rhode Island history, which preserved the stability of the state’s $14.8 billion pension system and millions of taxpayer dollars,” said Bill Fischer, spokesperson for Fox.

“Comprehensive reform lowered state and local contributions to the system by $275 million this fiscal year alone and reduced the state’s unfunded liability by $3 billion,” Fischer said. “It took financial pressure off state and local budgets, not only by securing funding for future retirees, but also by freeing up available dollars for education and infrastructure improvements. As a Providence resident, Mr. Binder should be cognizant of the fact that pension reform is saving his city $13.4 million this year. Yet Mr. Binder said he didn’t ‘know’ what his opinion would be if he had to vote on pension reform, adding that his wife being a school teacher on a pension made him unsure.”

But Binder’s campaign fired back but saying the Independent candidate does support pension reform. Binder also accused Fox of attempting to distract voters from his role in the failure of 38 Studios and a payday lending bill that tabled.

“Obviously, I recognize the need to address the state’s unfunded pension liability, but I refused to engage in a discussion of the topic that was limited to offering a yes or no answer,” he said. “I know the financial impact on taxpayers of failing to act and I recognize that something had to be done. But I have also heard from public retirees and near-retirees in the district who have been hurt by this deal and wonder why promises to them are being broken while every effort is made not to break a supposed promise to the unknown bondholders who invested in 38 Studios.”

 

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