Much of the country is watching the Democrats’ attempt to save the blue model in Wisconsin’s recall election today, but in Providence, Rhode Island, it is the Democrats themselves who are taking on big blue. Mayor Angel Taveras’s proposed deal to modify the pensions of government workers in order to save the city from bankruptcy follows up on earlier mandates and is currently under consideration by union leaders. The deal would cap future pensions and permanently dissolve the annual increases traditionally allotted to public workers such as police and firefighters.Providence’s need for fiscal relief is dire, as Bloomberg reports:
The agreement is the latest to scale back public-worker benefits in states and cities from California to Maine seeking to curb pensions as costs have ballooned and investment returns have soured even as retirees live longer. Providence needs almost $1 billion to fulfill its contract promises after failing to make required contributions to its retirement system.“We believe that this is the deal that will save the pension system and save the city of Providence,” Taveras, a Democrat elected in 2010, said by telephone yesterday. “We obviously think that this is a good deal and are cautiously optimistic that it will be approved.”
In deep blue Rhode Island, where Obama won by a 27.8 percent margin in 2008, we find another Democrat dealing a blow to the blue model. In joining the ranks of fellow Democrats Andrew Cuomo and Pat Quinn, Mayor Taveras is facing up to the reality that the politics of “more” no longer works. As the pension and union burdens become ever more unsustainable, forcing more, and more dire, cuts on services that Democratic voters want and need, watch for others on both sides of the political aisle to follow suit.