Rhode Island Is No. 1 For Pension Problems

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PROVIDENCE, R.I., Sept. 6 (UPI) — Rhode Island has the nation’s largest unfunded pension liability, state Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo says.

Though barely 1 million people live in Rhode Island, Raimondo told The Washington Post the state’s pension shortfall amounts to at least $6.8 billion.

To fix the problem, Rhode Island officials are considering what many view as desperate measures, the Post said.

They include lowering retirement benefits for public workers, replacing part of guaranteed pensions with 401K-type accounts, and sharply reducing cost-of-living increases for retirees.

Benefit cuts for current retirees are no longer on the back burner.

“If it isn’t illegal, it certainly wouldn’t sit right morally,” said J. Michael Downey, president of Rhode Island Council 94 of the America Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Downey accused officials of trying to fix the state’s problem “on the backs of people who have worked all their lives.”

Robert A. Walsh Jr., executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, said the kinds of things being talked about are radical change.

“If you cut too much, you have taken away the point of a pension,” Walsh said.

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