By Dan McGowan
WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – Lawyers briefed the Rhode Island judge overseeing a union lawsuit challenging the state’s 2011 pension overhaul for the 15th time Friday as talk of a potential settlement continues to swirl.
Reporters were camped inside of Judge Sarah Taft-Carter’s courtroom at Kent County Superior Court as state and union lawyers met behind closed doors. The lawyers refused to comment, citing a court-imposed gag order.
Taft-Carter ordered the two sides into a formal, closed-door mediation process overseen by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in December 2012.
The next status conference has been scheduled for Monday, Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. in the same location.
The update came in the same week that Gov. Lincoln Chafee proposed a 2014-15 budget to lawmakers that didn’t allocate any funding toward a potential settlement. During a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers, Chafee said that if a settlement was reached and the General Assembly approved changes to the pension law, the state budget wouldn’t be affected until the 2015-16 fiscal year.
“Everybody’s anxious to see that number,” Chafee said.