On 2 May, along with many Rhode Islanders, I witnessed Senate Finance Committee hearings concerning the options relating to restoration of COLAs for retired state workers and teachers. In typical …
On 2 May, along with many Rhode Islanders, I witnessed Senate Finance Committee hearings concerning the options relating to restoration of COLAs for retired state workers and teachers. In typical State House fashion, all bills were “Held for Further Study!” Anyone familiar with the workings of the General Assembly knows they will go… nowhere.
Since Gina Raimondo introduced her “Truth in Numbers!” Campaign arguing that RI “required Pension Reform” in order to “save” the Pension Fund, many current and former Legislators have come to the conclusion that they were sold a “bill of goods”. In reality all it did was benefit Raimondo and her Wall Street benefactors! Unfortunately, too many retirees have suffered because of her hubris and the apparent reluctance of the General Assembly to correct the mistakes of the past.
However, there are some willing to take a stand on behalf of these elderly retirees, probably the most outspoken is Sen. Frank Ciccone. Not only did Senator Ciccone question and actually vote AGAINST Treasurer Raimondo’s “Dog and Pony” show back in 2011, but he also continues to speak on their behalf over a decade later, hardworking pensioners who are only "expecting their contract to be honored"!
Having witnessed his testimony during the Senate Finance Committee hearing on May 2nd relative to the proposed restoration of COLAs, I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank him for standing up for retired state employees and teachers. He was right on point with facts and data that belie the “smoke and mirrors” of the RIRSA, as well as the history of this travesty, and his testimony only serves to underscore the complete failure of the General Assembly to address this issue!
There are many pensioners who do not understand why the General Assembly would abdicate any responsibility for past failures, more so given the statement that there are approximately 1,700 state full time equivalents, FTEs, fully funded yet unfilled in the CURRENT budget! Why hasn’t the House and Senate Leadership addressed this possible solution?
Never mind General Treasurer Diossa who seems to be in way over his head and more content on advancing his political future than taking care of the elderly that contributed THEIR money into the ERSRI Pension Fund. On 12 May he stated that he was “Glad to stand with workers against wage theft! All workers deserve fair and honest pay for their hard work.” What does he think Gina’s “reforms” did? If that wasn’t “wage theft”, what was it?
One would hope CURRENT members of the General Assembly would take immediate action to provide relief to retirees that are passing on, as Sen. Ciccone pointed out, at a rate of 100 per month! That is 1,200 per year! Unfortunately, too many have passed on or will pass on before they see any COLAs. Given the figures that were cited by Senator Ciccone during the committee’s hearing, which works out to over 9,600 before the restoration of ANY COLAs per Treasurer Diossa's forecast! Are they kidding me?
Thanks again Sen Ciccone, for your efforts on behalf of those elderly retirees currently struggling in this economy. They aren’t asking for anything that they haven’t already paid for! One wonders why the rest of the General Assembly does not see things the way Sen Ciccone presented them.
CDR USN (Ret)
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