Battle Brewing Between Chafee & Raimondo
Thursday, May 24, 2012
The verbal spat between Governor Lincoln Chafee and General Treasurer Gina Raimondo continued Wednesday when the two rivals traded barbs over the apparent lack of oversight regarding the finances of Curt Schilling’s cash-strapped video game company.
But the tension between Chafee and Raimondo, who is widely viewed as the favorite to be the Democratic nominee for Governor in 2014, stems more from a disagreement the two had during last fall’s pension reform debate than it does from decisions made regarding Schilling’s failing video game company.
Chafee has continuously charged that Raimondo made a mistake by not granting cities and towns the ability to freeze cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) for retirees. In an interview last week with GoLocalProv, Chafee said he doesn’t understand why the Treasurer didn’t go to bat for municipalities last year.
“That’s the question I can’t answer,” he said. “Why a smart Treasurer couldn’t see the magnitude of the local issues. I don’t have a good answer for that.”
Raimondo meanwhile has defended her pension plan by suggesting that cities and towns needed to do their homework and understand just how severe their problems were before taking up reform efforts. The legislation did require municipalities to reevaluate their pension systems and begin taking action toward addressing their unfunded liabilities.
“Maybe the Governor hasn’t reviewed the legislation that was passed by the General Assembly, but there was an entire chapter dedicated to independent municipalities and that work is happening,” Raimondo said during an interview on the Dan Yorke Show.
But Chafee, the veteran politician, believes more could have been done last year when members of the General Assembly weren’t immediately facing reelection. Chafee has proposed a municipal relief package that includes freezing COLAs and offering mandate relief to struggling communities, but his plan has been met with lukewarm support in the legislature. An increasingly tense relationship with Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed is unlikely to help matters for the Governor.
Still, the dispute between the two leaders appears to be little more than an early attempt at jockeying for position in a Governor’s race that is more than two years away. Raimondo has become one of the most popular politicians in the state with her fiscally conservative approach while the Governor has tried to win back support by standing up for cities and towns.
“My concerns go back to the crash of 2008,” Chafee said last week. “I knew then they could not take these kinds of hits. I knew that Providence with the children they have to educate and the mandates, the binding arbitration and the minimum manning, these communities couldn't take that hit.”
Dan McGowan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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