EAST GREENWICH — With the pension reform debate officially under way, the Town Council made its support for the cause official Monday night.
After tabling a support resolution last week while awaiting the unveiling of the plan, the council unanimously voted Monday to send a strongly-worded measure to state officials backing the legislation proposed by General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
The measure being debated by the General Assembly in its special session would suspend automatic cost of living increases (COLAs) for state pension recipients until pension funding levels – currently less than 50 percent – reach the 80 percent level recommended by actuaries. Estimates of when funding levels will reach the 80 percent figure have reached up to 20 years, according to both supporters and opponents of the bill.
The cost of inaction, say Council President Michael Isaacs and Town Manager William Sequino Sr., is pretty expensive.
Since approval of the town’s fiscal 2012 budget in June, they have maintained that pension costs will increase by $2 million or more in the FY13 budget, unless pension reform legislation is passed.
“This is absolutely critical issue for out state and our town, and we should tell our legislators they need to support pension reform,” said Isaacs.
While most of the town’s employees are covered by the state’s Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS) and teachers are in the state teachers’ retirement plan, Sequino wants to see municipally-managed plans throughout the state included in the legislation, which touts an immediate $3 billion savings in unfunded liability and an additional $3 billion over the next 10 years.
For more information pick up a copy of the East Greenwich Pendulum