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!
Raymond J. Jobin MA
Sr. Rehabilitation Counselor (retired)