If you asked Rhode Island’s political and business leaders to name the No. 1 fiscal issue facing the state, taxes, plugging the $331 million fiscal 2012 deficit and jobs/economic development would all rightly get their share of votes.
But to General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, there’s one issue that tops them all – a massive unfunded pension liability of $6.8 billion that annually steals an increasing share of resources that might otherwise be directed to resolve other budget ills.
The time for minor fixes around the edges, designed to appease public-employee unions, is over, she says. Only comprehensive reform, which by definition will likely include changes in benefits the state has already promised, will reverse the worsening cycle of annual budget deficits plaguing Rhode Island and, yes, other states.
Since her election, Raimondo has delivered the same sobering message at every opportunity, most recently last week at the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s annual economic-outlook luncheon.
We applaud her use of the bully pulpit of her office to draw attention to long-term implications of a problem only recently quantified. But that is only the first step. The governor, lawmakers and state business leaders need to take action and turn Raimondo’s message into reform that drowns out self-interest in favor of the collective good.
The state’s long-term fiscal health depends on it. •
Join PBN for the best networking event and party of the winter - January 15, 2015 - the Book of Lists Party at the Providence Public Library. Reserve your spot by December 31st and get a holiday gift from PBN!
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.