From yesterday's Wall Street Journal is this piece about RI State Treasurer Gina Raimondo who achieved the following changes to RI pension rules:
- Shifts all workers from defined-benefit pensions into hybrid plans, which include a modest annuity and a defined-contribution component;
- Increases the retirement age to 67 from 62 for all workers;
- Suspends cost-of-living adjustments for retirees until the pension system, which is only about 50% funded, reaches a more healthy state.

Ms. Raimondo is a Democrat, former venture capitalist, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and has a bachelor's in economics from Harvard and law degree from Yale.

"A government that doesn't work is in no one's interest," she says. "Budgets that don't balance, public programs that aren't funded, pension funds that are running out of money, schools that aren't funded—How does that help anyone? I don't really care if you're a Republican or Democrat or you want to fight about the size of government. How about a government that just works? Put your tax dollar in and get a return out the other end."
 
 
Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed pension reform into law in New York State over bitter opposition from public sector unions. This is in spite of the reforms being relatively modest:
- changes only apply to new hires
- retirement age raised to 63 from 62
- workers now have to contribute 3-6% of their salaries
 
 
Today's Boston Globe reports that 45 cities and towns have sent letters to the Department of Unemployment Assistance detailing what they see as abuses in the system:

■After taking mandatory retirement at age 65, some former police officers and firefighters collect unemployment benefits along with their pensions.

■Teachers who have been informed that their contracts may not be renewed for the following academic year receive a notification letter in the spring, and many receive a lump-sum payment in June to cover their salary through August. Despite being under contract, receiving pay and medical benefits, some file for and receive unemployment compensation benefits in July and August, then resume teaching when the school year begins.

■Teachers in an area of “critical need’’ are allowed to return to teach at full pay after they retire, without any income limitations or pension offsets. Once the school district fills the position, however, the retiree is allowed to collect unemployment benefits in addition to his/her pension.

■When they are paid by the municipality (and not the school district), some school bus drivers are eligible for unemployment benefits for school vacations, holidays, and other days off. (It was not mentioned in the letter, but municipal officials said that school crossing guards and substitute teachers also have filed for and received unemployment benefits because school was not in session or they were not called in to work.)

■One municipality hired a reserve police officer full time, and sent him to the state’s police academy. The recruit did not receive a passing grade at the academy and was returned to the reserve ranks, where he or she applied for and was granted unemployment benefits.

"Lynnfield Town Administrator Bill Gustus authored the letter that detailed holes in the state’s unemployment compensation system as it relates to municipal employees, including scenarios that were termed “questionable’’ or, in one case, defying “the laws of sanity.’’
 
 
From Boston.com:  "Cities and towns in Massachusetts do not have to pay the state's share of a career incentive program that rewards police with higher pay for advancing their education, the state's highest court ruled Wednesday.

...

"The case was closely watched by cities and towns. If the ruling had gone the other way, some Massachusetts communities would have been required to pay millions of dollars to make up for the state's underfunded half of the program."


 
 
From last week's Boston Herald:

"... it’s the latest scam involving untold armies of Massachusetts municipal employees: teachers, school bus drivers, volunteer firefighters, cops... we know they get generous retirement pensions plus very generous health care. But now, incredibly — hard to fathom even here in public corruption ground zero — they get unemployment, too."

(Margery Eagan asked Attorney General Martha Coakley about this on WTKK 96.9 radio last week and she agreed it was something that should be looked into)