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Treasury Statement on AFSCME Report

PROVIDENCE, R.I. The Office of General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo today released the following statement on the recent American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees report:

"This is clearly another political propaganda piece aimed at discrediting the Treasurer and the state's pension reforms. None of this innuendo-filled report presented today seems new or different from the claims made in the past by Ted Siedle, who is being paid by AFSCME.

"The biggest innuendo is the false accusation that the Treasurer is using her position to enrich herself or that the state pension fund is not well-managed. These false personal and political attacks are red herrings intended to undermine pension reform.

"The Treasurer is proud of the work of the General Assembly did to provide retirement security for hardworking public employees and retirees. She also stands by the State Investment Commission strategy of maintaining strong long term returns, while working to minimize risk, by diversifying the portfolio.

"In 2011, Rhode Island had a choice. It could have done nothing and been dishonest about its problem. Instead, Rhode Island leaders came together, courageously put politics aside, and made the tough decision to protect the retirements of hard working public employees and retirees. Critics of the reform who cannot accept the math that the pension system was in crisis are like the climate change deniers who dispute basic scientific facts.

"The hypocrisy of this political attack is overwhelming. The City of Providence, the state's second largest public pension fund has also suspended cost-of-living-adjustments, has a higher percentage of its pension fund invested in hedge funds and publishes less information than the state about the fees, investment portfolio, and investment commission actions.

"Despite all this, Ted Siedle is not being paid tens of thousands of dollars to criticize the City of Providence's fund. The reason for this is clear: this isn't about investment strategies, it's about attacking the Treasurer and pension reform."

"It is time to stop using pensions as a political football and instead put the best interests of our valuable state employees and teachers first. The political temptation is to go backwards, but let's move forward to avoid hurting people, just as they were hurt in Central Falls when pension checks were cut in half.

It is important to remember:

- The treasurer fought to always keep a defined benefit pension, and always respected collective bargaining.

- Reform passed overwhelmingly in a Democrat-controlled General Assembly

- There were countless hours of labor-attended pension advisory group meetings, legislative hearings and town hall-style meetings with the Treasurer and Governor

- All but one vote to approve the hedge funds were unanimous. The only vote to approve hedge funds that was not unanimous was due to one abstention again, showing strong SIC support to execute this investment strategy

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Related links

Department or agency: RI Office of the General Treasurer

Online: http://www.treasury.ri.gov/

Release date: 10-17-2013

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