Rhode Island state leaders are downplaying the significance of a judge’s ruling that public pension benefits are a contract between the state and its employees and cannot be taken away “on a whim.”
State Treasurer Gina Raimondo says the state will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. She says the ruling is just one step in a lengthy legal battle. She said lawmakers can’t afford to wait to address ballooning costs of public pensions.
Still, Tuesday’s decision by Judge Sarah Taft-Carter is certain to complicate the ongoing pension debate. The ruling allows public-worker unions to proceed with a lawsuit seeking to block recent pension reductions.
Lawmakers will consider additional pension change during a special session next month.
Estimates put Rhode Island’s unfunded pension liability at $7 billion.