Meet the 39 RI rebels who forced a $12.9M pension payment

RI_House_chamber_9-2011_TNRhode Island’s budget is done. The House has voted. All that’s left is quick Senate passage Thursday and then Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s likely signature.

But it’s worth pausing to take stock of the House of Representatives’ remarkable vote Tuesday at 11:47 p.m. to buck the chamber’s Democratic leadership and restore a supplemental $12.9-million payment into the state pension system. One State House veteran said it had been years since a budget article failed to win passage.

Regardless of what you think about the merits of the move, it was a rare example of Rhode Island legislators thinking for themselves on the biggest vote of the year instead of going along with an untouchable budget blueprint handed down by leadership.

There were 39 votes to make the pension payment and 36 votes against doing so. After the jump, the full list of 39 rebels who voted to put the $12.9 million into the pension fund, which includes all six Republicans and some Democrats who aren’t usually troublemakers. It’s quite a unique coalition.

  • Joe Almeida, D-Providence
  • Gregg Amore, D-East Providence
  • Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, D-Woonsocket
  • John Carnevale, D-Providence
  • Stephen Casey, D-Woonsocket
  • Mike Chippendale, R-Foster
  • Maria Cimini, D-Providence
  • Doreen Costa, R-North Kingstown
  • Greg Costantino, D-Lincoln
  • Robert Craven, D-Saunderstown
  • John DeSimone, D-Providence
  • Grace Diaz, D-Providence
  • Spencer Dickinson, D-South Kingstown
  • Deb Fellela, D-Johnston
  • Antonio Giarrusso, R-East Greenwich
  • Scott Guthrie, D-Coventry
  • Ray Hull, D-Providence
  • Robert Jacquard, D-Cranston
  • Raymond Johnston, D-Pawtucket
  • Charlene Lima, D-Cranston
  • John Lombardi, D-Providence
  • Karen MacBeth, D-Cumberland
  • James McLaughlin, D-Cumberland
  • Mary Messier, D-Pawtucket
  • Patricia Morgan, R-West Warwick
  • Brian Newberry, R-North Smithfield
  • Jared Nunes, D-Coventry
  • William O’Brien, D-North Providence
  • Jeremiah O’Grady, D-Lincoln
  • Patrick O’Neill, D-Pawtucket
  • Peter Palumbo, D-Cranston
  • Bill San Bento, D-Pawtucket
  • Patricia Serpa, D-West Warwick
  • Teresa Tanzi, D-Wakefield
  • Lisa Tomasso, D-Coventry
  • Joe Trillo, R-Warwick
  • Larry Valencia, D-Wyoming
  • Donna Walsh, D-Charlestown

The full vote count is here, with the list of 36 “ayes” who stayed loyal to leadership.

Also, 14 of the Democrats who voted to force the pension payment still voted against the final budget, even after House leaders bowed to their wishes on the retirement contribution: Carnevale, Cimini, Dickinson, Guthrie, Lima, Lombardi, MacBeth, McLaughlin, Nunes, O’Grady, O’Neill, Tanzi, Tomasso and Valencia.

Speaker Fox needed 50 votes to pass the budget under House rules. The final tally was 52-20 in favor, so if he had lost just three of its supporters, the budget would have died – an almost unimaginable outcome.

4 thoughts on “Meet the 39 RI rebels who forced a $12.9M pension payment

  1. I actually watched the budget debate on TV. It was the first time I took the time to actually watch them live. The take away is that the average representative is actually stupid. Really stupid. I heard them ask the same questions over and over and over again…not because the answer was not being provided, but simply because they couldn’t grasp the answers that were provided. How are they suppose to vote on things if they can’t even understand it? Then while discussing the historic tax credits, one rep puts forward a question that has nothing at all to do with it….he informed of the topic of the debate, apologizes, sits down. And five minutes later the same guy gets the floor and asks the same stupid off topic question and it reminded again what the current topic of discussion was. That budget represents betrayal of public trust and gross fiscal mismanagement.

  2. If the budget had failed, what would the outcome have been? 49 votes is still a majority of the Reps. It’s not like it would’ve been a loss of supply like a Westminster system.

    Wouldn’t it simply have meant that leadership would’ve been forced to try and whip their members into line or create a budget that was appealing to 50 reps?

    Or would it have functioned as a de facto loss of supply? Leadership can’t pass a budget, so therefore they must step down and let another leadership team attempt to pass a budget?

    • It’s so hard to say, because it’s so hard to imagine a leadership team incompetent enough to take that final budget vote without knowing there would be 50 in the affirmative, particularly this week when they had extra time to whip. I presume they would have added or taken away some things to win over, say, Cimini or O’Grady or Valencia.

  3. My rep (Guthrie) receives a full disability pension. A rebel? Come on Ted you could have come up with better headline.

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