HEADLINES : Rhode Island
R.I. tracking costs of health benefits for state retirees
PROVIDENCE - It's pensions that will get the attention this fall when state lawmakers convene for a special session, but behind the scenes, state officials are also keeping tabs on the cost of another promise the state has made to its retirees.
That benefit - retiree health insurance - does not carry a price tag equal to that of state pensions. But it is costing taxpayers millions of dollars a year, and with the state now into the second year of a long-term plan to build up a pension-like trust fund to pay for retiree health care, the state budget office is seeking an update on where those costs are going.
Last year, the cost was $48.5 million, according to the state Budget Office. State pension costs, by comparison, were $205.1 million with teachers added in.
Both figures are expected to rise for the fiscal year that began July 1, but unlike the pension costs, which are expected to keep rising unless lawmakers approve reforms, the outlook for retiree health-care costs is less clear. To get a handle on it, the state Budget Office has asked the state actuary to run new projections.