Trillo promises “relief and transparency” on pensions if elected

Joe Trillo says his first executive order as governor would be on pensions. – TR

Posted by NewsTalk 99.7 & AM 630 WPRO on Friday, October 19, 2018

By Tessa Roy, WPRO News

Independent candidate for governor Joe Trillo said if he’s elected, his first order of business would be signing an executive order to “begin to reverse and investigate the damaging effects” of Governor Gina Raimondo’s 2011 pension reform.

Trillo acknowledged supporting then-treasurer Raimondo’s reform, but said he did so because lawmakers were led to believe that “basically the sky was falling and the state probably would have ended up in bankruptcy” if huge changes weren’t made. He also said he relied on her knowledge as treasurer and that “she knew more than I knew about the situation.”

However, Trillo said, he’s since spoken to a number of Rhode Islanders who were “egregiously wronged” by the reform as a result of suspended cost of living adjustments (COLAs). He hopes to begin restoring some of those COLAs with his potential executive order.

“We’re going to look into what we can do to move forward to bring back some form of COLAs,” he said. “We will include in the budget which the governor submits to the general assembly, enough money to cover a 3% COLA to the retirees up to $20,000 of their retirement income.”

Trillo also announced that he’d bring in attorney Ed Siedle as a special counsel as well as appoint former Democratic candidate for governor Spencer Dickinson to a special commission to investigate further. Trillo cited Dickinson’s outspokenness on the pension issue in explaining why he wanted him on board.

Dickinson said he’s not formally endorsing Trillo, but plans to vote for him and is willing to help work on pensions if Trillo is elected.

“Hopefully I bring some expertise. What expertise I don’t have, we’ll find,” Dickinson said.

Raimondo campaign senior adviser Mike Raia responded to Trillo’s charges, saying Raimondo’s reforms were tough but needed.

“Reforming and protecting Rhode Island’s pension system was hard but necessary work. Because of Governor Raimondo’s leadership, Rhode Island is making investments in education, job training, and infrastructure and our economy is the strongest it’s been in years,” he said. “Joe Trillo and Allan Fung promise to send Rhode Island backwards.”