The RI Society of CPAs, in partnership with the member organizations of the RI Business Coalition, is pleased to see Governor Gina Raimondo’s veto Wednesday of disability pension legislation for firefighters. The Governor vetoed a bill that would have given a firefighter who develops any type of a heart disease related condition a guaranteed right to an accidental disability pension, which would be two-thirds of pay, tax-free for life, without requiring medical proof. The Governor stated in her veto message that the bill was irresponsible because it would create unaffordable new pension costs for communities, and noted that firefighters already have a right to pursue an accidental disability pension for these conditions, but that protocols exist which require it to be medically validated. The bill had been passed by the General Assembly during its recent brief September session.
In addition to the Governor, the legislation was widely opposed by city and town mayors, the RI League of Cities and Towns, taxpayer and business advocates, and State Treasurer Seth Magaziner. The Treasurer warned if the legislation were to become law, it would create new pension costs of nearly $3 million that municipalities cannot afford, and would block state pension administrators with the state’s Municipal Employees Retirement System (MERS) from current practice of requiring medical proof to a claim of work-related injury or illness for a permanent accidental disability pension. The RI League of Cities Towns had argued due to the prevalence of numerous heart disease related conditions among the broader population, it should not be an automatic presumption that a heart disease related condition is directly tied to the job.
“The RI Society of CPAs is pleased to see the Governor’s veto of this bill,” says RISCPA President Bob Mancini. “We believe it was a prudent decision that is in the best interests of local communities, taxpayers and the administrators of the municipal pension fund system.”
The RI Business Coalition, which advocates for the interests of the local business community, represents over two dozen business groups and local chambers of commerce and is headed by the RI Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC).