As we near the end of the legislative session, a look back

June 7, 2024 - Erich Haslehurst testifies on multiple retirement bills before a joint HouseEducation & Finance hearing in April. As he says, NEARI is on record supporting pension relief for active and retired members. In fact, over the last many months, NEARI has publicly supported nearly every pension bill heard at the General Assembly!

The budget language proposed by House Finance that changes calculating pension benefits using the highest three years of salary instead of five positively impacts every active member regardless of date of hire. That puts real money in people’s pockets and is a giant first step in meaningful pension improvements.

Our members have advocated for this change with postcards, phonecalls, and testimony to the General Assembly for nearly a year. We are not at the finish line yet, but their hard work is making the path to passage possible.

Pension improvement bills submitted at the General Assembly

Rep. Jay Edwards with NEARI members at the Statehouse

Representative Jay Edwards and Senator Walter Felag have submitted legislation in their respective chambers to address pension relief for Rhode Island teachers and municipal and state employees. Both bills put forward

Members testified before Senate Finance Committee

the 5 to 3 average salary change in how an employee in the ERSRI has their pension benefit calculated (keep reading for details on 5 to 3 and why NEARI recommends it as the 2024 strategy toward increasing pension benefits for all active members in the ERSRI system).

*H8149 teachers were unintentionally omitted from the bill draft. It will need to be amended to include teacher benefits.

Tell legislators to support S2979 & H8149 today!

Why does NEARI recommend the 5 to 3 Year Average Salary option for pension relief in 2024?

The 5-to-3-year average salary option is:

Timeline and Strategy at a glance

What is the 5 to 3 Year Average Salary?

State law provides that an employee’s final average salary is based on the average of the five highest consecutive years of earnings, regardless of when they occur. The average salary formula was increased to five years from three years in 2009 (it was not part of 2011 pension reform).

What is being proposed?

Legislation would amend the final average salary formula from the highest five years of pay to the highest three years of pay for teachers and state and municipal employees.

What does this mean for me?

The “5 to 3” option provides relief to as many active members as possible

While salary increases will always vary by member:

How can I get involved?

All of us work hard, providing vital services to our communities, and all of us deserve a secure retirement. For the past 38 years, the State of Rhode Island has chipped away at our retirement benefits, with the biggest cut hitting us in 2011. Together we can reverse that trend.

To win the 5 to 3 option, we need the Rhode Island House and Senate to support us!

Send a postcard!

When you fill out this quick form, NEARI will turn it into a personalized postcard from you to your Representative and Senator and send it on your behalf. Our goal is to send at least 5,000 postcards to the General Assembly. Let's take this first step together toward pension improvements and a more secure retirement.

Yes, I want to send postcards!

Flyers for sharing in your Local

Why is this happening now?

As directed by the General Assembly and required by Rhode Island Law, the General Treasurer convened a Pension Advisory Working Group to assess the impacts and unintended consequences of the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011. The Advisory Working Group met six times over four months beginning in November 2023. Experts and stakeholders were given the opportunity to testify before the Group at each meeting.

NEARI testifies at Pension Advisory Group hearing

Mary Barden testifying at the Pension Advisory hearing

Executive Director Mary Barden and Vice President Amy Mullen testified at the second session of the Pension Advisory Working Group empaneled by General Treasurer James Diossa. Watch the testimony here

NEARI-Retired President Ray Pouliot testified in Session Three. You can watch his testimony here.

Documents and Links

For a full selection of documents and meeting materials from the Advisory Group, visit and click Meeting Materials in the left-side tab

Final Report of the RI Pension Advisory Working Group February 26, 2024

Advisory Group Actuarial Impact (PDF) January 31, 2024

Pension Advisory Working Group Options for Consideration January 17, 2024

NEA Retired President Ray Pouliot testimony December 14, 2023

Pension Advisory Working Group Brief by General Treasurer James Diossa