PROVIDENCE – R.I. Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio, D-North Providence, announced this month plans to introduce legislation to prohibit the use of the state’s retirement system funds to pay the state’s legal cost in its defense of the unions’ court challenge of pension reforms enacted into law in 2011, or similar cases that may arise.
In a statement, Ruggerio, who works as an administrator for the New England Laborers Labor Management Coop Trust, called it “sad irony” that the state is using pension money to defend the new law in court.
“That is essentially using future pensioners own money to fight against a suit they brought, and that’s just not right or fair,” he said.
The legislation would add new language to the existing law related to the restricted-receipt account used to pay expenses of the retirement board and the cost of maintaining and administering the retirement system. The new language provides “that any litigation costs paid from the account shall be limited to defending those actions that arise as a result of decisions made by the retirement board.”
The pension reforms adopted in 2011 were a result of new law passed by the General Assembly, and not as a direct result of any action by the retirement board, said Ruggerio.
Co-sponsors of the legislation are Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey, D-Warwick, Sen. Daniel Da Ponte, D-East Providence, and Sen. Adam J. Satchell, D-West Warwick. •