A new proposed settlement to end litigation against Rhode Island’s state pension overhaul was revealed in court on Thursday, said Marie Aberger, spokeswoman for Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo.
Six of the nine unions that sued the state agreed to the settlement. Three unions — those representing municipal police officers, Cranston police officers and Cranston firefighters — have not settled.
If approved by the court and the General Assembly, the proposed pension settlement will end litigation from six challenges arising from changes made to the pension system in 2011.
Retired Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Frank Williams worked to broker the new proposed deal and unveiled the settlement Thursday.
Unlike a deal proposed in 2014, not all plaintiffs are required to agree to the settlement.
The plaintiffs, which include public employee unions and retiree coalitions, sued to block a 2011 overhaul, which created a hybrid plan, raised retirement ages and suspended cost-of-living increases for participants in the $8.3 billion Rhode Island Employees’ Retirement System, Providence, as a cost-savings measure.
Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter on Thursday canceled an April 20 trial date after the proposed settlement agreement was announced.
Proposed changes include two one-time stipends payable to all current retirees; an increased cost-of-living adjustment cap for current retirees; and lowering the retirement age.
The lawsuit has been the subject of closed-door mediation since 2012. The mediation process ended in April 2014 after a proposed settlement was rejected by members of the police union and a trial date was set for April 20, 2015.
“The proposal keeps our state on a path toward financial stability,” Ms. Raimondo said in a news release. “While the state has a strong case, the uncertainty of a trial threatened to reverse that progress.”
“This proposed settlement lifts a cloud of uncertainty from our state and allows us to finally move forward,” added General Treasurer Seth Magaziner in the news release.
The court will set a schedule for the parties to implement the settlement, and the remaining three lawsuits will be addressed by the court.