PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - R.I. General Treasurer Gina Raimondo will receive a national award in New York City next month for her successful efforts to overhaul the state's pension system.
The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research will present Raimondo with its Urban Innovator Award, national recognition "given annually to a policymaker whose work epitomizes the Institute's view that effective government is key to our safety and prosperity," according to the nonprofit's website.
Raimondo was selected from a pool of dozens of city and state officials across the country, according to Michael Allegretti, director of the institute's Center for State and Local Leadership. The organization's website says it focuses on "ideas that foster economic choice and individual responsibility."
"We look at folks on both sides of the political aisle regardless of ideology," Allegretti said. The award honors "someone who stood for real reform and put fiscally sound practices into action. She was a very logical pick for the award."
Raimondo will be joining a list of nationally known policymakers who have received the award, among them former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Washington, D.C., Education Commissioner Michelle Rhee and former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
"We are looking to recognize political leaders who actually implement a reform agenda versus just speaking about them," Allegretti said. Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the pension overhaul into law Nov. 18.
Raimondo was selected because she put together a "thorough process" for passing pension reform, according to Allegretti. That process included soliciting input, crafting the bill and working with the General Assembly to get it passed into law. But Allegretti said even if the bill had failed on Smith Hill, Raimondo was a top contender for the award.
"Reform often happens a second or third time around," Allegretti said. "But for the sake of the people of Rhode Island it's good that it's happening now."
Raimondo spokesperson Joy Fox said the treasurer will be attending the Jan. 5 award luncheon in New York City, where she will deliver a keynote speech. In a statement, the treasurer said she was "honored" to be recognized.
"The Rhode Island Retirement Security Act passed because Rhode Islanders called for action and change, and their elected leaders responded," Raimondo said in the statement. "This legislation is a good first step in moving our state forward."
Allegretti said Raimondo was not interviewed during the selection process and wasn't made aware that she was up for consideration until they announced her selection last month.
Raimondo has received national coverage for putting pension reform at the top of the state's agenda, including from The New York Times and Time magazine. Allegretti said the Manhattan Institute was tracking Rhode Island's "dire straits" throughout the year.
WPRI.com reporter Ted Nesi contributed to this report.
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