November 21, 2014
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Open letter to General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and the Pension Advisory Group

To the Editor:

I’m writing as a retired state employee who faithfully and proudly served the citizenry of Rhode Island for 35 years. While my focus was on assisting individuals with disabilities to live independently and become productively employed, the majority of my fellow employees were likewise dedicated and conscientious in their respected professions and areas of responsibility, both within the Department of Human Services and in all other departments and areas of state service. I say this with the breath of experience in military and private enterprise as well.
Service delivery was not always easy to render, for all too often, shortages of staff and resources hampered the smooth rendition of timely and essential services. As an example, I carried a caseload of 366 individuals for an extended period of time, and often provided at least an extra 10 hours per week, uncompensated, to help meet the obligations at hand. Further, while our program was 80 percent federally and 20 percent state funded, delays in Congressional actions, lack of coordination in federal and state budget years, and the incertitude of actual amounts and matches caused interruptions in service delivery to the detriment of our clientele and tarnished our professional image.
I don’t regret the challenges, and feel honored to have served, but take strong objections to facing ridicule as an undeserving public employee who is getting a handout. During my career, I received no special treatment and contributed approximately $97,000 into the pension fund. The state was to also contribute to this fund, but it often failed to do so.
The Retirement Board and the legislature constantly guaranteed us, verbally and in detailed writing, that our benefits were ironclad. Given our continued and vast contributions, the state has a fiduciary obligation to honor its commitment.
Retirees did not design the system we worked under. We accepted its mandates and promise. We didn’t withhold our contributions or service. We delivered; the state must also!

Sincerely,
Raymond J. Jobin MA
Sr. Rehabilitation Counselor (retired)
Johnston


Comments
5 comments on this item

Well said. An investigation should take place,exposing the times that State and local municipalities failed to make their contributions. Retirees such as you are inaccurately portrayed as greedy recipients of a State hand out. Make the COLA a true COLA {link it to the same COLA's of Social Security},put only new hires in the new plan,and reamortize the existing cost to those in the current plan.

You couldn't have said it any better, Mr. Jobin....Was I a greedy police officer when I arrived at a burning house in Apponaug and removed 3 children from a second floor apartment on Easter Eve in 1963. Was I a greedy police officer when I disarmed,arrested and brought to trial,on two occasions, burglars crawling through windows of business and on one occasion a home? Was I a greedy police officer when I arrested a murderer shortly after he commited the crime? These are only three of several occasions when I was commended by the Warwick Board Of Public Saftey. Do I considerer myself a hero? Of course not, I was just doing the job that I was hired to do and tried to live up to the oath I took when I was sworn in as an officer.Now I'm being portrayed as a greedy municipal employee.I can no longer remain a silent observer. The true facts are...The municipality did not live up to it's responsbility and contribute to the retirement fund as was promised. I paid my dues as was required during my carrer and thought the city was doing the same. That's where the citizens should direct their anger and not at the municipal employees. One must query as to where the monies went that never reached the fund.

I am now retired from the department, I AM 76 years of age and in bad health. I pay for my own health insurance and have done so since I turned 65 and went on medicare. My main concern is how drastically the cuts will be in my pension and will it hinder my ability to pay for my medications and insurance.

It is scary to know that our elected officials are holding our life styles in their hands, again making promises that they themselves are not certain they can keep

Yours truly,

.

Robert White

Warwick Police Lt. ( Ret.)

We can dance around the base issues all we want, but the bottom line is, the old pension formulas don't work any more. they're unsustainable and unaffordable. Don't forget, the retirements of a half century ago, when senior family members of today's retirees were state or municipal employees, pensions were based on high percentage of low wages, and at an early age when life expectancy was not so great. As life expectancies and wages grew, pensions for future employees should have changed, too - but they never did.

And now they simply cannot be carried any more. Is this fair? Generally speaking, no. What's in the contract is binding, as union workers (including myself) held as gospel.

My advice to you all - and by "you" I mean any and all potentially-affected state and municipal employees and retirees - is to come up with a reasonable, viable. and affordable alternative to the EngageRI supported plan. Beating your collective chests over service records, no matter how deserving of praise they might be, accomplishes nothing (nothing positive, anyway). But keep in mind, you're trying to win over people whose pensions don't even approach yours, and in almost every case, do not include COLAs.

Know that going in.

Why not post who the donors to EngageRI are? Let's see who's hiding. Big biz and bought politicans I'll bet.

The state is broke. The state did put the money it was supposed to contribute into the pensions (With a one year exception). Its time to take the emotion out of it. Its unfair to put the burden on current state employees, and taxpayers alone. This mess is the blame of the rank and file union members and the retirees, that targeted any pro taxpayer legislator, city council member, mayor or other government official. You have brought Rhode Island to its knees, with your greed.

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