Regardless of the details of the negotiated settlement of the state's 2011 pension-cutting law, Rhode Island lawmakers and taxpayers will be left in limbo as to whether or not future pension reforms at the state and local level can be legally conducted.
"We don't need a backward looking pension deal, we need a forward looking pension ruling on its constitutionality," commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity. "We all know that the 2011 law was just a band-aid and that massive reforms are still required at the state level, and especially in municipalities."
Can responsible lawmakers constitutionally undertake such vital reforms down the road? The Providence Journal incorrectly reported that the deal addresses this issue. The Center believes that the proposed settlement would leave this critical question unanswered.
"The only thing 'awesome' about this deal, is how easily unions have been able to manipulate the process to win yet another major victory," continued Stenhouse. "They understand that clouding the legality of future pension reforms is in their best interests. Once again taxpayers lose."
According to the Center, supporting this settlement is a near-sighted, path of least resistance approach. The unions understand the long-term implications of a settlement, which will be to largely perpetuate the status quo.