Brave Thinkers 2012 November 2012

Gina Raimondo

More

General Treasurer, State of Rhode Island

Once upon a time, politicians across the land found a magical formula for achieving popularity. They kept public employees’ pay low, enabling low tax rates (hooray!); to make up for the low pay, they promised fat pensions down the road (huzzah!). The pensions were funded by gimmicks and wishful thinking. But that would be a problem for future politicians to reckon with.

Raimondo is one of the first to perform that necessary reckoning. Last year she led an unprecedented reform, raising the retirement age (to 67), freezing cost-of-living increases, and adding a 401(k)-like plan to the traditional (shrunken) defined-benefits plan.

Raimondo, a Democrat, says she ran for office largely to perform this thankless task. The state’s pension payments were crowding out spending on things like libraries and public buses—services she depended on in her youth. Amid the pain and the blame, Raimondo focused on the math, recognizing two things: That waiting longer would mean harsher adjustments for all, including the public workers themselves. And that the state has a duty not only to the past, but to the future as well.

See all our 2012 Brave Thinkers.

Image credit: Steven Senne/AP

Don Peck, features editor, The Atlantic
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Breathtaking Tour Above the Moab Desert

Filmmaker Ian Cresswell rigs an HD camera atop a remote-controlled "octocopter" for some spectacular aerial views.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In