PROVIDENCE, RI - Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell today pledged to double the Municipal Incentive Aid Program in his first budget to limit the impact pension mediation will have on municipalities. The settlement if approved is projected to cost municipalities approximately $11 million in FY 2016. "As governor, one of my highest priorities will be to strengthen our cities and towns financially. My first budget will include a $10 million appropriation to the Municipal Incentive Aid Program to limit the impact of pension reform on cities and towns. If we're truly all in this together, we should work to ensure property tax increases are not the result of changes to the State's pension system," said Pell. The Municipal Incentive Aid program was implemented to encourage municipalities to improve the sustainability of their retirement plans and to reduce unfunded liabilities by providing additional state aid to those municipalities that comply with the requirements of the program. Currently, thirty-eight cities and towns are eligible to take advantage of the $5 million program. "Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. One of the factors holding back our economy is the cloud of uncertainty that has lingered because pension reform has remained unresolved. For the past two and a half years, the state pension system has been fraught with uncertainty. As governor, I will bring people to the table at the beginning of the process to negotiate our collective problems. This approach did not occur in the case of pension reform. What did occur is a process that has cost the taxpayers of Rhode Island more than half a million dollars - and it is far from over," stated Pell. "That said, I am in favor of moving forward. The prospect of having this battle unfold in a lengthy and costly judicial process with no certain outcome is not an alternative I favor. I remain hopeful that the uncertainty surrounding pension reform will be resolved this legislative session so that we can turn our full attention to the economic growth and job creation challenges and opportunities that lie ahead," said Pell.