Rhode Island union leaders say state lawmakers should raise income taxes on the state's highest earners to reverse years of budget cuts.

State AFL-CIO President George Nee said Thursday that Rhode Island needs additional tax revenue to stabilize government budgets and prevent deep wage and pension cuts to public workers.

But Gov. Lincoln Chafee says raising income taxes could backfire if high earners leave the state. Chafee, an independent, has said he is open to considering some kind of tax increase this year as lawmakers grapple with a $120 million budget shortfall.

The comments came after a closed-door meeting between Chafee and union leaders to discuss a possible overhaul of municipal pension plans.