Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 05-08-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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18 OPINION MAY 8-14, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION A recent report issued by an advisory panel to General Treasurer Seth Magaziner should concern every Rhode Island tax- payer. This study concluded that almost two-thirds of locally run pensions are in "critical status," i.e. plans that have less than 60 per- cent of what they need to cover their pension liabili- ties. (The security ratio is supposed to be a 4-5 propo- sition with $4 in for every $5 to be paid out over the long term.) At first blush a taxpayer in a place like Barrington might not think it concerns him. It does. The piper will have to be paid by everyone, so wide- spread is the problem. Anyone who is a new employee in these juris- dictions should wise-up. Without reform it is highly unlikely that the "promise" of the gold at the end of their rainbow will be there for them. Particularly wor- risome is the promise of workers' future pensions in Providence which is only about 26 percent funded. Further, the pension short- fall is actually greater than the report says. Providence's deficit is predicated on an 8 percent investment return and payroll growth assump- tions which are myths. By using a high return, the Capital City is exaggerating its performance and hiding millions of additional dollars of accrued liabilities. When one folds into the dismal funding of accrued liabilities in the pensions in Central Falls and fire (26.5 percent), Coventry police (20.2 percent), West Warwick Town plan (23.3 percent), Cranston police and fire (21.9 percent), and Warwick police and fire (24.0 percent) and the other woeful underfunded pensions, a catastrophe is around the corner. Taxpayers have to get with the program and realize that the pension liabilities are cannibaliz- ing services in their cities/ towns. Providence pays 21.8 percent and Johnston, 21.26 percent of its tax levies for pension obligations leaving little discretionary funds for present needs. So, what has been the response of the legislators and the governor to this bad news? More nonsense. Just like the politicians as then Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci who mortgaged the future of the city in exchange for public union votes, they, too, are play- ing the same game. They fully expect to continue the problem for votes until they get out of office and the col- lapse happens on somebody else's watch. There can be no other conclusion other than they are guilty of dereliction of duty. The legislature is hell- bent on passing legislation that boosts firefighters' pen- sions into the stratosphere. The governor's veto pen is stuck in her pocket since she is signaling her support of this legislation along with the bill that continues exist- ing contracts in municipali- ties despite protests of may- ors and town administrators. Beneath the surface of these burgeoning pension liabilities is another time bomb, i.e. the cost of health care obligations in the cities and towns. Together these liabilities will turn Rhode Island into a third world country. Property taxes will skyrocket. The ultimate irony here is the collaboration of the very unions that purport to represent all of its members. They are not doing so. To keep their elected positions of power they go for short- term fixes for their members while mortgaging the future of its younger workforce. No person of good will and fundamental math skills can possibly conclude otherwise. The "brotherhood" of union workers is R.I.P. as is the ultimate commonwealth of Rhode Island. Violet is an attorney and former state attorney general. Pension liabilities will swamp Rhode Island By KEVIN O'NEILL We live at a time when wis- dom, hope, moral clarity and courage are badly needed. Last fall, two big scientific reports made four things very clear: (1) The climate is changing. (2) We are causing it. (3) People will suffer from it. (4) We must eliminate 50 percent of pollutants from fossil fuels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. Such wisdom is not new. The basics of climate change were figured out by 19th century European scientists. By the time we put men into space, scientists understood the details better and antici- pated worse impacts; and yet humanity literally pressed the gas pedal, accelerating our approach to a climate crisis. So far, we have not stopped accelerating. Wisdom has been available, but we have not acted wisely. Today, some say it is too late or that we are too small to do anything about the problem. Powerful compa- nies and people with insuffi- cient imagination say that we cannot drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels, that doing so would ruin the economy. They say it is better to dam- age the planet. Clearly, many people are deficient in hope. Our actions are guided by moral principles, by market signals, and by laws. We pay to avoid contaminat- ing our neighbor's drinking water with our sewage. Yet we pay nothing for discharg- ing pollutants from cars and furnaces that cause asthma in children, warm the planet, and acidify oceans. We ben- efit today at the expense of people in other places and future times. Why? In 1819 it was hard to imagine a thriv- ing economy without slave labor. Today we struggle to imagine a future without fos- sil fuels. We should tune our moral compass to new signals and take courage from our history of innovation. We spend $3 billion annually on fossil fuels in Rhode Island. What can you do to change that? Ask National Grid or Green Energy Consumers Alliance how to purchase 100 percent green electricity for your home or business. Make your home more comfortable year-round, reduce emissions, and (if burning oil) save money by installing a heat pump and using your furnace less. Electric vehicles are quiet- er, more fun to drive, cheap- er to operate and maintain, and increasingly affordable. Make your next car electric. Offset the emissions you cannot eliminate (See terra- pass.com , cotap.org , etc.) Support politicians act- ing wisely. Sen. Whitehouse speaks eloquently of climate problems and solutions. Gov. Raimondo is trying to increase the amount of clean energy in the state 10-fold by the end of 2020, and she has ordered state agencies to lead by example. The Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014 set a goal of reducing fossil fuel pollution by 45 percent by 2035. You can urge your local representative and sena- tor to do more in the current R.I. legislative session: Make the Resilient RI goals legally binding by passing the Global Warming Solutions Act (H5444/ S0658). Send a clear market signal that will promote innova- tion and wise investments, the Economic and Climate Resilience Act (H5869 / S0662). Ramp up electric vehicle purchases by the state (H5631/S0558). Today, "Hope" cannot merely be our state motto. It should be a verb with its sleeves rolled up, creating new companies and new jobs. The internet enabled previously inconceivable soft- ware companies like mine. The transition to clean ener- gy will likewise create oppor- tunities for businesses we can scarcely imagine today. Look at what is already growing in Rhode Island, companies like Deepwater Wind/├śrsted, eNow, and Power Docks. When our grandchildren ask "What did you do to stop climate change?" I want to say "Everything I could." What will you say? Kevin O'Neill is president of The Conference Exchange, previ- ously worked as an engineering consultant and manufacturing executive, and is active in the Rhode Island chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby. Tom Ward is on vacation. A time of great peril and great opportunity Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally owned and operated group of free weekly newspa- pers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher tward@valleybreeze.com James Quinn, Deputy Publisher jquinn@valleybreeze.com Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com Barbara Phinney, Controller accounting@valleybreeze.com Volume X, Number 38 May 8, 2019 valleybreeze.com @ Breeze THE VALLEY

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