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.

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