Teacher Pensions Blog

Last night Gina Raimondo, the Treasurer of Rhode Island and a champion of penison reform, won the Democratic nomination for governor of Rhode Island. A few quick thoughts: 

  1. Pension reform can be good politics. Despite being a Democrat in state where President Obama took 63 percent of the vote, and despite heavy union opposition and spending against her, public polls showed strong support for Raimondo's leadership on pension issues. She brought facts and data to a knife fight, and she won. 
  2. The pension reform legislation is still tied up in lawsuits, but it would be a good thing for both taxpayers and teachers. Once enacted, it's estimated to save the state $4 billion over two decades and would put the state's pension funds on a much more sound footing. Just as importantly, it would benefit the vast majority of teachers. 
  3. There's still a lot of work to do. Even under the most generous assumptions and assuming the reforms pass legal muster, Rhode Island's teacher pension plan faces an unfunded liability of nearly $3 billion (it has saved only about 57 percent of what it has promised to pay out in benefits). We need more politicians like Raimondo who are willing to tackle pension issues and seek out solutions that are good for their state and good for their workers. Rhode Island just proved it's possible.