WPRO News and the Associated Press
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo signed the controversial ‘evergreen contracts’ bill into law Tuesday, which will keep expired contracts in place during negotiations. The governor also allowed a separate bill on firefighter overtime to become law without her signature.
She says it’s a fair compromise that protects workers’ wages and benefits from unilateral cuts after a contract expires. She says unions still have incentive to negotiate for future wage increases.
Mayors and other municipal leaders had vehemently opposed the bill and launched a campaign to convince Raimondo to veto the bills, which passed the General Assembly this month.
Raimondo had vetoed a previous version of the evergreen bill two years ago.
Later Tuesday, the League of Cities and Towns issued a statement criticizing the governor’s decision to sign the bill. “Today’s decision by the Governor to enact this legislation only makes the difficult task facing community leaders that much harder,” said Brian Daniels, Executive Director. “Municipal officials have already been working hard to protect the taxpayers. In fact, due to careful municipal fiscal management, the average property tax increase has been about 2% for the last five years. Still, Rhode Island has the 6th highest property tax burden in the country.”
“The Governor’s action further rigs the game to the advantage of special interests. The General Assembly has already stacked the deck against cities and towns with longstanding unfunded mandates such as binding arbitration, unreasonable disability pensions and more. These new bills only make it harder for municipal leaders to negotiate contracts and make decisions in the best interests of the taxpayers. Rhode Islanders will come to regret today’s decision by the Governor, with property taxpayers living with the negative impacts long after she has left office.”