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Russell Moore: Fear and Loathing - RI Style

Monday, April 06, 2015

 

J. Michael Downey, President of Council 94

Is there anybody who's happy in Rhode Island right now?

More specifically, with respect to the pension lawsuit settlement agreement, is there no group of people who isn't angry, scared, or both? 

It seems like, from the state workers and retirees, to the taxpayers who make the government possible, to the politicians, nobody is happy with the result of the pension settlement. Yet, through fear, and despite anger, they're all forced to sort of accept what's really been the inevitable since this whole saga began about 4 years ago.

First, those who will be affected the most, the state workers, teachers, and retirees, are upset that they had to begrudgingly accept a pension settlement that, they assert, only gives them a token giveback. The odds of winning their lawsuit against the state, they were told by their union leaders, were stacked against them. In other words, the court battle would be uphill both ways.

Loathing

In a way, it's easy to understand their frustration. The public sector workers were promised one thing, kept up their end of the bargain, but will end up getting much less than they bargained for. And it doesn't help that they've heard that the state has a "moral obligation" to pay the 38 studio's bonds, but none to keep their word to the retirees, as J. Michael Downey, the President of Council 94, the largest state employees union, has pointed out numerous times. (Yes, he has a point.)

But looking at the big picture, and comparing what the public sector workers get compared to those who toil in the private sector, it's not even close. The public sector workers, all things considered, have vastly better retirement packages than their counterparts.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer advocates I’ve spoken with are upset that they're once again going to have to fork over more money to the public sector unions. Thanks to a gag order that remains in place, the details are still fuzzy, but leaked documents say that the state will have to come up with about $32 million more in the current fiscal year alone after the agreement takes effect. (There are already murmurs of re-amortizing the debt to make the plan more affordable, but that would only cost significantly more in the long run.)

So taxpayers are wondering why the politicians they've elected have been eager to agree to a settlement that will end up costing the taxpayers millions extra when all the evidence points to the fact that the state would, in the end, prevail in court.

An Insurance Policy

Speaking of politicians, fear has been their motivation. Governor Gina Raimondo, Treasurer Seth Magaziner and the legislative leaders, have all noted that they'd rather take risk out of the equation and reach a settlement with the employees instead of risking losing all of the savings from pension reform. The pension reform of 2011 shaved off roughly $4 billion of the unfunded liability, and the settlement, which preserves roughly 90-percent of the savings, looks a lot like an insurance plan.

But sometimes, insurance isn’t a wise investment, say the folks at the conservative-leaning Rhode Island Center For Freedom and Prosperity. They argue that the state needed to take the case to court and get a decision that would answer the question, once and for all, as to whether it was legal to for the state legislature to reform the pension system. A settlement, the think tank points out, leaves too many questions unanswered.

Here's the thing: it's a common notion that in any good negotiation, both sides should come away feeling as if they could have done better, and could have given up less than they did. Using that as a barometer here, it seems like the pension settlement agreement is a fair deal, since nobody seems to be happy at this point.

When Nobody is Happy

When all is said and done, the reforms did take the system from roughly 40-percent funded all the way to 60 percent funded. That means if everyone who was entitled to a pension, demanded it today, there would be 60 percent of the funds needed to meet those obligations. That's significant progress. 

However, any good financial analyst will tell us that a pension plan that isn't 80-percent funded isn't a well-funded plan. That, coupled with the fact that the pension reform initiative of 2011 didn't touch two sacred cows in Rhode Island--judicial pensions and state police--and that municipal pension plans throughout the state are still in dire straits, it's abundantly clear that while politicians might be saying that our troubles are over, there are really seriously structural issues that need to be addressed. In other words, all is not well.

That means, once again, quote the late, great Hunter S. Thompson - we'll see plenty more fear and loathing in Rhode Island going forward.

Russell Moore has worked on both sides of the desk in Rhode Isand media, both for newspapers and on political campaigns. Send him email at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @russmoore713.

 

Related Slideshow: Top Providence Pensions

Prev Next

#49

Name- Daniel Guertin

Annual Earning- $95,050.92

Postition- Police-5

City- Providence   

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 19,1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#48

Name- Carmine Vallante

Annual Earning- $95,140.20

Postition- Fire-4

City- Johnston

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 19,1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#47

Name- Alfred Millard

Annual Earning- $95,368.32

Postition- Fire-4

City- Warwick

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- March 24, 1994

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#46

Name- James Rattigan

Annual Earning- $95,983.44

Postition- Fire-4

City- North Providence   

State- RI

Retirement Type- Service

Retirement Date- June 30, 2003

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#45

Name- Frank Deangelis

Annual Earning- $95,986.80

Postition- Fire-4

City- North Providence   

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 19, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#44

Name- Stephen Lowe

Annual Earning- $96,156.36

Postition- Fire-4

City- Bristol   

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 17, 1992

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#43

Name- Mary Gonsalves

Annual Earning- $97,463.04

Postition- Police-5

City- Warwick

State- RI

Retirement Type- Beneficiary

Retirement Date- December 1, 1993

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#42

Name- William O'Neill

Annual Earning- $98,160.96

Postition- Fire-4

City- Cumberland   

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- August 22, 1990

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#41

Name- Paul Healy

Annual Earning- $98,183.28

Postition- Fire-4

City- Cranston  

State- RI

Retirement Type- Service

Retirement Date- October 20, 1993

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#40

Name- James Molloy

Annual Earning- $98,711.16

Postition- Fire-4

City- Providence   

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 18, 1987

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#39

Name- Livia Miller

Annual Earning- $99,193.80

Postition- Fire-4

City- Warwick 

State- RI

Retirement Type- Beneficiary

Retirement Date- May 1, 1997

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#38

Name- Joseph Battista

Annual Earning- $99,271.08

Postition- Fire-4

City- Johnston

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- April 29, 2004

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#37

Name- Robert Kerfoot

Annual Earning- $100,140.36

Postition- Fire-4

City- Cranston

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- March 24, 1994

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#36

Name- Ralph Ricci

Annual Earning- $100,357.44

Postition- Fire-4

City- Providence

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- April 28, 1994

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#35

Name- Henry Latek

Annual Earning- $100,502.52

Postition- Fire-4

City- Providence

State- RI

Retirement Type- Service

Retirement Date- June 30, 1995

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#34

Name- Joseph Bradley

Annual Earning- $100,898.52

Postition- Fire-4

City- Whitefield

State- NH

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- November 20, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#33

Name- Ronald Johnson

Annual Earning- $102,098.64

Postition- Fire-4

City- North Scituate

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- May 1, 2003

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#32

Name- Gloria Pisaturo

Annual Earning- $103,385.76

Postition- Police-5

City- Warwick

State- RI

Retirement Type- Beneficiary

Retirement Date- December 1, 2002

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#31

Name- Edmond Malloy

Annual Earning- $103,575.72

Postition- Police-5

City- Chepachet

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- September 5, 1990

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#30

Name- John Reposa

Annual Earning- $104,665.44

Postition- Fire-4

City- Jamestown

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- June 21, 1995

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#29

Name- Pasquale Rocchio

Annual Earning- $105,238.32

Postition- Police-5

City- North Providence

State- RI

Retirement Type- Service

Retirement Date- August 22, 1989

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#28

Name- David Deignan

Annual Earning- $105,609.36

Postition- Police-5

City- Providence

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 19, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#27

Name- Lee Podedworny

Annual Earning- $106,838.16

Postition- Fire-4

City- South Kingstown

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- July 23, 1992

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#26

Name- Nancy Donahue

Annual Earning- $107,757.24

Postition- Fire-4

City- Warwick

State- RI

Retirement Type- Beneficiary

Retirement Date- July 1, 2005

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#25

Name- Domenic Pono

Annual Earning- $107,850.72

Postition- Fire-4

City- Cranston

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 19, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#24

Name- John Murphy

Annual Earning- $107,892.84

Postition- Fire-4

City- Providence

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 19, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#23

Name- Robert Carlson

Annual Earning- $108,555.36

Postition- Fire-4

City- Greenville

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- April 24, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#22

Name- Robert Emmett

Annual Earning- $109,256.16

Postition- Police-5

City- Cranston

State- RI

Retirement Type- Service

Retirement Date- November 13, 1990

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#21

Name- Thomas Doyle

Annual Earning- $109,329.24

Postition- Fire-4

City- West Warwick

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- August 26, 1988

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#20

Name- Joseph Errico

Annual Earning- $109,611.60

Postition- Fire-4

City- Warwick

State- RI

Retirement Type- Service

Retirement Date- June 30, 1995

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#19

Name- Edward MacDonald

Annual Earning- $110,225.64

Postition- Fire-4

City- Johnston

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- May 26, 1994

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#18

Name- Alfred Lamothe

Annual Earning- $110,505.96

Postition- Fire-4

City- Warwick

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- September 6, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#17

Name- Ernest Silva

Annual Earning- $112,796.28

Postition- Fire-4

City- Ft. Myers

State- FL

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- April 24, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#16

Name- Edward Dolan

Annual Earning- $113,126.04

Postition- Fire-4

City- North Kingstown

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 19, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#15

Name- Paul Marianetti

Annual Earning- $113,331.60

Postition- Fire-4

City- Ormond Beach

State- FL

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- November 17, 1994

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#14

Name- Rosemary Clark

Annual Earning- $114,725.64

Postition- Police-5

City- Chepachet

State- RI

Retirement Type- Beneficiary

Retirement Date- August 1, 2004

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#13

Name- John Gannon

Annual Earning- $117,318.60

Postition-Police-5

City- Coventry

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- January 24, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#12

Name- Marcia Moise

Annual Earning- $119,791.20

Postition- Fire-4

City- Jupiter

State- FL

Retirement Type- Beneficiary

Retirement Date- April 1, 1997

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#11

Name- Robert Read

Annual Earning- $123,105.00

Postition- Fire-4

City- Cranston

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 19, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#10

Name- Alfred Bertoncini

Annual Earning- $123,599.16

Postition- Fire-4

City- Smithfield

State- RI

Retirement Type- Service

Retirement Date- December 19,1994

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#9

Name- Victor Dichiara

Annual Earning- $126,845.28

Postition- Fire-4

City- East Greenwich

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 17, 1992

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#8

Name- Edmund Calcagni

Annual Earning- $135,702.72

Postition- Police-5

City- North Providence

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 29, 1990

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#7

Name- James Kelly

Annual Earning- $137,336.04

Postition- Fire-4

City- Greenville

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- September 28, 1988

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#6

Name- Vincent Delisi

Annual Earning- $145,520.88

Postition- Fire-4

City- North Providence

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 17, 1992

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#5

Name- William Manchester

Annual Earning- $148,839.84

Postition- Fire-4

City- Warwick

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- December 19, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#4

Name- William D'Iorio

Annual Earning- $156,870.60

Postition- Fire-4

City- Smithfield

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- Novemver 29, 1990

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#3

Name- Anthony Sauro

Annual Earning- $161,487.24

Postition- Fire-4

City- Johnston

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- July 5, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#2

Name- Robert Anthony

Annual Earning- $162,944.04

Postition- Fire-4

City- Smithfield

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- September 25, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

Prev Next

#1

Name- Gilbert McLaughlin

Annual Earning- $196,813.08

Postition- Fire-4

City- Warwick

State- RI

Retirement Type- Accidental Disability

Retirement Date- October 24, 1991

Source: This information was secured through a FOIA request from the city of Providence.

 
 

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