The State is "Out of Whack" with Other States, Really?
All of the pundits, the taxpayer organizations and economists have been saying it for how many years - RI ranks last in everything positive and first in everything negative - long before Chafee came along!
This week, Governor Raimondo spoke to many of the problems that ail this state, citing the out of control spending on Medicaid, the very generous
public employee pay and benefits, and the significant investment in
education that has yielded a mediocre education system at best, all leading to $1.3 billion in deficits projected for the next 4 years.
She alluded to increasing the sales tax and then she said she "would really like to avoid tax increases". So what will it be, a combination of the state giving, by reducing spending, and the people giving, by paying more in taxes or fees? That would only signal to the business community that Governor Raimondo would like more of the same. It would also add to an already high tax burden that, like the new Governor refers to, is "out of whack" with other states.
So, she is stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. However, she did mention that political will would be the key, she has "some tough choices to make in many areas". The questions are, will her budget reflect those tough choices that reduce spending without further burdening taxpayers and will the General Assembly support a Governor from their own party?
OSTPA would like to point, again, to the lack of any discussion on illegal immigration. Yes it is a political hot potato, but it drives much of the imbalance in our economy. RIILE (Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement) estimates illegal immigration costs roughly $300 million in RI. A very significant piece of that relates to Medicaid and uncompensated healthcare costs. If Medicaid is one of the outliers as Raimondo points to, then why wouldn't she discuss that portion of costs created by illegal immigration? The same question applies to her reference to the high cost and low outcome of RI's
education system. RI is an outlier in the area of illegal immigration, out of whack with other states. It must be addressed.
The House in the General Assembly has passed E Verify in the past, a simple and efficient system, used by the federal government that can quickly determine the citizenship status of new employees. However, the Senate would not hear of enforcing immigration law in this state. Whether any elected officials want to face it or not, the cost of illegal immigration in RI is high and it is contributing to the downward spiral in numerous systems in our economy.
One Political Party Owns the Fix.
Now that there is one party in charge of both the executive and the legislative branch, the fix to what ails RI should be a cohesive, comprehensive vision for a path to economic prosperity. OSTPA is looking forward to the Governor's budget, due March 12, 2015, along with the support of the General Assembly as it works closely with the Governor to cut spending in the many areas that need it.
We look forward to a 5 Year Budget that projects no deficits because it includes attacking the structural problems we know exist. We urge both the Governor and the General Assembly to address illegal immigration in order to reduce the pressures on both the education system and the cost of our state government, and to dismantle the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (somehow mistakenly referred to by the planners as an economic development element of the state guide plan) and to work with economists to create a comprehensive, free market-based economic development plan.
The GA is Already Doing Something New.
The General Assembly has already begun their efforts to put forth new legislation to attack some of the outliers. Representative Shekarchi introduced H 5341, a bill to allow employees to opt out of the state's TDI system (temporary disability insurance) if the employer provides a temporary disability insurance option. The cost of RI's temporary disability insurance system is an outlier and fixing this system would be a good first step and a signal that our state is ready for real change.
Legislative Hearings 2/24/25 - 2/26/15
TUE, FEB 24
House Corporations Chairman Kennedy
Room 203, Rise (4:30 pm)
H 5292 Grants exclusive authority to state to regulate unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).
Sponsors: Ucci, Corvese, Reilly, Melo, Winfield
H 5293 Creates a commission to study regulation of drones.
Sponsors: Ucci, Corvese, Azzinaro, Hull, Bennett
H 5294 Caps rate increases for Verizon telephone service at 5% annually, targeting a private company, mandating selling price.
H 5313 Creates a commission to study RI's health insurance mandates.
Sponsors: Morgan, Chippendale, Filippi, Reilly,Trillo
Senate Finance Chairman DaPonte
Room 211, Rise (4:30)
S 305 Codifies Instate tuition for illegal aliens
Sponsors: Pichardo, Metts, Crowley, Miller, Nesselbush
WED, FEB 25
House Judiciary Chairman Keable
Room 205, Rise (4:30 pm)
H 5470 Prohibits state vendors from contributing to candidates responsible for awarding those state vendor contracts.
Sponsors: Marcello, Kazarian, Coughlin, Tanzi, Costa
THU, FEB 26
House Labor Chairman Shekarchi
Room 203, 3:30 pm (and continued at the Rise)
H 5150 Requires list of subcontractors when bidding on state contract.
H 5316 Allows for seasonal bus drivers to continue to obtain unemployment benefits and not participate in finding work if there is a call back provision in the contract.
Sponsors: McLaughlin, Messier, Azzinaro
H 5351 Allows for drug testing on muni and state employees operating taxpayer funded vehicles.
Sponsors: Morgan, Chippendale, Reilly, Giarrusso, Roberts
House Finance Chairman Gallison
Room 35, Rise (4:30 pm)
H 5228 Codifies Instate tuition for illegal aliens.
Sponsors: Diaz, Slater, Maldonado, Tobon, Barros
Senate Finance Chairman DaPonte
Room 211, 3:00 pm
S 17 Exempt military and federal pension from state income tax.
Sponsors: Dipalma, Felag, Ottiano, Pichardo, Raptakis
S 310 Exempt military pension from state income tax.
Sponsors: Felag, Walaska, McCaffery, Ottiano, DiPalma
Committee Recommended Passage:
H 5261 Allows bake sales at polling places… No, really.
Sponsors: Ucci, Winfield, Corvese, Lombardi