The situation was pretty dire though: "Many states are wrestling with rising pension costs, but Rhode Island's situation is among the worst in the nation. According to research from the Pew Center on the States, Rhode Island is one of only two states to have less than 50 percent of the funding needed to cover benefits that public sector employees have already accrued."
The legislation suspends cost-of-living adjustments for those collecting state pensions and raise the retirement age for most employees. It also sets up a hybrid system for state employees and teachers, mixing a traditional pension with a retirement account similar to a 401k. Read more here.