The judge overseeing mediation talks in the lawsuit over Rhode Island's pension overhaul law has set a follow-up meeting for Sept. 30.
"It's just a status conference with the attorneys in chambers," court spokesman Craig Berke said Friday, one day after Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter met in Providence with attorneys for the state and for the five public-sector unions challenging the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011.
The sides have met before Taft-Carter seven times.
The far-reaching package created a hybrid plan merging conventional public defined-benefit pension plans with 401(k)-style plans. It also included a suspension of cost-of-living adjustment increases for retirees and raises the retirement age for employees not yet eligible for retirement.
Rhode Island expects to reduce its unfunded pension liability to $4.3 billion, a 41% reduction, and raise the funding level for its defined benefit plan to 59.8% from 48.4%.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee favors the mediation talks, saying a loss in court could cost the state millions. But General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who championed the law, favors standing firm.
A compromise could throw the measure back to state lawmakers.
Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, and House Speaker Gordon Fox, D-Providence, worry about political fallout from watering down the landmark law, which generated national headlines and acclaim from the capital markets.
Moody's Investors Service rates Rhode Island's general obligation bonds Aa2, while Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor's assign AA ratings.
Chafee said last week he would not seek re-election. Fellow Democrat Raimondo is considering a gubernatorial run, as are mayors Angel Taveras and Allan Fung from Providence and Cranston, respectively. Taveras is a Democrat, Fung a Republican.
Taveras and Fung this year negotiated pension reductions with their cities' unions.