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Update: General Assembly Approves Pension Reform

The state House of Representatives and Senate held full sessions today to consider a bill that would make significant changes to the state's retirement system.

Update: General Assembly Approves Pension Reform

The RI House and Senate have passed their versions of the pension reform bill.

The State Senate has passed their version of the pension reform bill 34-2. The House has passed their version by a 57-15 vote. Any differences between the two chambers' respective bills would have to be ironed out before a final bill can be considered.

According to an online record, the House voted on its version of measure at 7:39 p.m., then approved the Senate bill two minutes later by a 57-14 tally.

Then, at 7:56 p.m., the Senate voted 32-2 to approve the House version, officially making the legislation law.

Cranston's delegation, all democrats, were split on the bill.

State Senators Beatrice Lanzi, Hanna Gallo and Joshua Miller voted for the legislation.

Cranston State Representatives Charlene Lima, Peter G. Palumbo and Robert P. Jacquard voted against the bill, while Nicholas A. Mattiello, Arthur Handy, Joseph McNamara, Michael J. Marcello and David R. Ucci voted for it.

Both houses opened full sessions this afternoon to consider bills that would, according to state General Treasurer Gina Rainomdo and its supporters, make much-needed changes to the state's retirement system.

The Finance Committees of the House and Senate separately approved the bills — House Bill 2011-H-6319 and Senate Bill 2011-S-1111 — on Nov. 10, and forwarded them for votes by each chamber. 

After sometimes-contentious hearings at the end of October and beginning of November, union leaders told a joint meeting of the House and Senate Finance Committees that the proposed reforms amounted to "draconian" measures, with firefighters union spokesman Paul Valetta charging Raimondo with "cooking the books" to make the situation look more dire than it is.

In testimony before the joint committee on Nov. 1, Raimondo told legislators that the reforms are needed for the long-term health of the pension system.

"This bill will solve the problem once and for all. If we don't do this comprehensively enough, we'll be back here in two or three years," Raimondo said.

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