- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) - General Treasurer Gina Raimondo said Monday that it would be catastrophic for Rhode Island to lose the legal challenge over the state’s pension overhaul but that she has a “high degree of confidence” that won’t happen.

Speaking at an unrelated event in her gubernatorial campaign, Raimondo said it was frustrating that police union members voted down the agreement. They were the smallest of six groups that had to sign off on it; it overwhelmingly won approval from all the other groups, including retirees and teachers.

“Losing this case would be catastrophic for Rhode Island,” she said. “You will see cities and towns go bankrupt.”

But Raimondo said the state has a very strong case and predicted the law would be upheld in court. A trial is scheduled for September

Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter ordered continued mediation after the police rejected the deal, but the talks broke down, both sides in the case announced Friday.

The plaintiffs said the state had ended the talks. Spokesman Ray Sullivan said the state “decided it would rather pursue costly and drawn out litigation rather than reach a reasonable agreement.”

“We weren’t able to find a way forward,” Raimondo said Monday.

The proposed settlement agreement announced in February was an attempt to end the legal challenges brought by public-sector unions and retirees over the 2011 pension law, which was designed to save the state $4 billion over the next 20 years.

The settlement preserved most of the sweeping changes of the overhaul but gave retirees a modest pension increase.

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