Woman of the Year - GoLocal

Monday, December 26, 2011

 

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It all started with Time magazine in 1927 naming Charles Lindbergh “Man of the Year.” His miraculous trip across the Atlantic changed travel forever and elevated American pride.

In January of 2011, Gina Raimondo took office as General Treasurer and identified and took on the most complex, politically-charged financial and political issue ever to face Rhode Island – a $7.3 billion pension liability.

Not even Bruce Sundlun’s banking crisis and recession equaled this threat to Rhode Island’s economic viability.

RI Born

Even without the pension crisis, Rhode Island has suffered a deep recession and unemployment rate that has been a full point higher than the national rate for more than four years.

Today, Rhode Island is the 48th ranked state in America for doing business according to Forbes magazine and is ranked 50th by CNBC. A collapse of the pension system and further decay in the state’s bond ratings would be devastating.

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For years politicians had shirked responsibility and passed the buck. Raimondo, a North Smithfield native, grad of Yale, Harvard and a true Rhodes Scholar, took on the issue with clarity and honesty.

Her training as a venture capitalist gave her the upper hand in analyzing the business issue and crafting a solution. She worked her way across the state and despite constant union criticism she stayed on message and focused on a solution.

Raimondo’s ability to educate the public, stay away from the political firefights, and stick to the issue help Rhode Island avoid a unmatched financial disaster.

Transformative Change

In November, legislation was passed by both Houses and signed by a pro-union governor. The adoption of the legislation could not have been accomplished without the leadership of Gina Raimondo – GoLocal’s Woman of the Year.

Moving forward in 2012, the test for Raimondo will be her willingness to help solve the municipal pension problem. Further, if she has the metal to take it on, the disability pension issue might potentially alienate both the police and firefighter unions.
 

 
 

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