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RI lawmakers to vote on landmark pension overhaul

Lawmakers in tiny RI poised to act on one of the largest pension problems in the US By The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) ' A political fight over pensions in Rhode Island could have implications for other states grappling with runaway costs of public employee benefits.

State lawmakers are set to vote on legislation Thursday that would suspend pension increases for retirees and make other changes designed to shore up the chronically underfunded pension system.

Rhode Island's pension system faces an unfunded liability of $7 billion ' roughly the size of the state's annual budget.

Supporters warn that without changes, taxes hikes and budget cuts will be needed to pay pension costs.

Public-sector unions have mounted last-minute efforts to fight the bill but conceded that a lawsuit may be their best hope.

Nearly every state is confronting pension problems caused by escalating costs, huge investment losses and recession-induced budget deficits.

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