Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina Raimondo said allegations that she fired an employee — who is also a Providence city councilman — because of a column he wrote about pension overhaul are “absolutely untrue.”
“Treasury supports Councilman [David] Salvatore’s efforts around pension reform, and wishes him well in his future endeavors,” Raimondo said in a statement Thursday.
Salvatore, in his own statement, said his Feb. 16 firing was over an op-ed piece he authored in the Providence Journal that ran Jan. 30. He said his comments in the article, which he authored with council President Michael Solomon, related to his chairmanship of the City Council’s subcommittee on pension sustainability.
“When I was fired on Feb. 16, I was shocked and immediately requested an explanation. In response, I was given the false explanation that I was being fired 'due to a lack of performance,’” Salvatore said in his statement. “Not only was my job performance fully satisfactory, never once had [anyone] ever questioned my rate or quality of production at any time during my employment by the office of the general treasurer.”
Salvatore, who has worked for that office since July 2007, had been paid an annual salary of $77,664 as manager of the unclaimed properties division, according to the Journal.
“David Salvatore’s allegation is absolutely untrue,” Raimondo said her statement. “Treasurer Raimondo continues to encourage all stakeholders — including Councilman Salvatore — to engage in the process of overhauling Rhode Island’s ailing municipal pension systems.”
Last November, Rhode Island passed a law that overhauled its pension system for public employees. It creates a hybrid plan that merges conventional public defined-benefit pension plans with 401(k)-style plans. It also includes a suspension of cost-of-living adjustment increases for retirees and raises the retirement age for employees not yet eligible for retirement.
Salvatore and Solomon wrote in their column that the pension law “shows that widespread support and momentum exist for pension reform at all levels.” It urged pension reform in Providence, the state’s 178,000-population capital city that, according to the councilmen, has a $903 million pension liability.