SOUTH KINGSTOWN – With one month left before the General Assembly will hold a special session on state pension reform, General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo is reaching out to every corner of the state to explain to tax payers the state’s $9.4-billion unfunded pension problem.
Last Thursday, she made a stop at South Kingstown Town Hall, where she met with two dozen local officials from South County. Later on in the day, she met 75 members and guests at the South Kingstown Rotary Club luncheon.
Raimondo had one message: “At the end of the day, the General Assembly votes. I don’t have a vote. Your voice needs to be heard.”
With no reform, the treasurer said more than $3 million of the state budget will go towards paying the unfunded liability. In seven to eight years, that sum will be over one billion.
“I can’t imagine a Rhode Island with $1 billion going into past payments. I can’t imagine a Rhode Island with store fronts closed. Something’s got to give. We have to do it in a comprehensive, thoughtful way so we can be fair,” Raimondo said.
Currently, the required state and local taxpayer contributions to the pension fund for public-employees has doubled from $139 million in 2003 to $302 million in 2010. It is expected to more than double again to $621.8 million next year.
In South Kingstown, Town Manager Stephen Alfred said without pension reform, the contribution rates will increase by $1.2 million for the town and by $2.8 million for schools in FY 2012-2013 for a total of a $4 million increase for pension payments.
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