PROVIDENCE â€“ Holding his thumb and forefinger about a half inch apart, retired Central Falls policeman Bruce Ogni implored the House Finance Committee to â€śshow us just this much compassionâ€ť by allowing the retirees to keep the 75 percent of their pensions they have left after the cityâ€™s historic bankruptcy.
While there were some tax increases and layoffs as part of Central Fallsâ€™ plan to get out of bankruptcy, the hammer came down hardest on retirees.
Not only did they lose all of their city-paid health insurance coverage, even those still suffering from the effects of job-related injuries, but many saw their already modest pensions cut by 55 percent. Several years ago, the General Assembly passed a measure to bring them back to 75 percent of their original pension amounts, but that expires after 2016 and they would go back to the level of the draconian cut.
Legislation introduced by Rep. Agostinhino Silva and Sen. Elizabeth Crowley, both Central Falls Democrats, would set aside just over $300,000 a year starting in fiscal year 2017 through 2035 or until the last of the 39 affected retirees dies. Silva said the retirees are â€śa closed group,â€ť and payments will not go on to survivors after their deaths.
Read the entire story in Friday's newspaper.