WSJ: ‘In Rhode Island, liberals take the lead on pension reform’

Once Governor Chafee signed the pension overhaul into law last Friday, it was only a matter of time before The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page published a piece ballyhooing the first-in-the-nation measure.

Turns out we didn’t have to wait long. The Review & Outlook section of Friday’s WSJ carries an unsigned editorial beneath an astonished-sounding headline (“A Democrat Bites Union Story”) with the subhead, “In Rhode Island, liberals take the lead on pension reform.”

“Rhode Island was founded by dissidents espousing freedom of conscience,” the editorial begins, “so perhaps it’s fitting that the state’s Democrats have bucked their labor allies and passed the most significant pension reform of the last decade.”

Here are the parts that will likely make other parts of the country take notice:

These reforms are far more comprehensive than those adopted or proposed in other states. …

[N]one have gone as far as Rhode Island and frozen benefits for current workers and shifted them to new plans. This is the most sustainable route, even if it may present legal challenges ….

Here’s the stunner: Unions denounced the reforms as radical and threatened to file suit, but 77 of the state’s 94 Democratic lawmakers still voted last week for the legislation with only minor amendments. Both Mr. Chafee and Ms. Raimondo deserve credit for explaining and defending the reforms to the public, which put pressure on lawmakers to go along.

Yes, America, there are courageous Democratic reformers.

To my knowledge, the WSJ is the first national editorial board to take notice of Rhode Island’s pension changes. There’s also been little reaction from intellectuals of other ideological stripes – the NYT editorial board, Matt Yglesias, Felix Salmon – and it would be interesting to hear what they think.

(photo: Ted Nesi/WPRI)

9 thoughts on “WSJ: ‘In Rhode Island, liberals take the lead on pension reform’

  1. and the dems fell for it….again.

    Dear Libs – when the WSJ sings your praises and the Unions want your head? Time to reassess.

  2. No question now, what had happened to the faces of the politicians. The public outside looked from Democrat to Republican, and from Republican to Democrat, and from Democrat to Republican; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    – with apologies to George Orwell

  3. Sorry, these guys get no credit from me. Since when is it “courageous” for these idiots to clean up a situation they and their predecessors have been creating for the last sixty years, a situation which should never have been allowed to happen. The best the general assembly will get from me is “it’s about damn time you did your damn jobs.” Until and unless they fix the city and town pension situation, they’ve only put lipstick on this pig. Now is the time for everybody who pays property taxes to revolt and defeat every attempt to raise our property taxes…the situation needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now without higher taxes. Maybe then the legislature will deserve some credit, but my guess is they’ll mess it up somehow.

  4. I believe liberals have done the same with Obamacare. Get it passed then hope it’s legal. Liberals seem to think if they break the law, “for the good of the American people” as they think they are doing, it’s OK. Obamacare will be found illegal just as this pension law will be. Thanks for spending my tax dollars on lawyers liberals!

  5. Why is it considered legal to Force employees into a 401k plan?
    this is a blatant attempt to fatten the purses of the Engager RI types and their ilk.
    How can a one percent pension attract and keep the best and brightest teachers for our schools? Anyone with a brain will run to MA for a teaching job.

  6. B, teacher turnover is exactly what the Gates-Broad-Walton cabal want. They have cited bogus studies that say teachers don’t improve after five years and advanced degrees don’t matter either. This nonsense is completely unquantifiable, but repeated enough by billionaires To become as good as fact. High teacher turnover deprofessionalizes teaching, which is what these groups are after. They want young teachers, work them til they burn out ( the Kipp model) and hire a new crop. Younger teachers who don’t plan to make teaching a lifelong career are more pliant to the whims of admin and are less likely to care so much about union membership, since teaching won’t be a career they will stick with.This is the TFA model, and it is supported by the reformers who have a friend in Gina Raimondo and many Wall Street hedge fund types.

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