Add A Site Description Here


 

 

Legislative Alert

 

It's Simple - Address the Real Problems, Don't Mask Them With More Spending, Phantom Savings.

 

Another Budget That Misses the Mark.

Just when you think there can't possibly be any other rankings in which RI could be at the bottom, another one comes along -  worst state in which to retire.  While RI did not rate worst overall to retire, it did rank very low in the cost of living category (42 worst), the community well being category (46th worst), and tax rate (43 worst state).  With the massive subsidies we provide for healthcare, one might think we would rank a bit higher than 46th worst in community well being. What do you think a new premium tax would do to our tax rate ranking?

 

We only call your attention to yet another survey to highlight what we said in last week's Alert. The Governor's budget is no different than Chafee's budgets and will not improve RI's ranking in any of the surveys where we find ourselves worst in virtually every category. Raimondo is taking a beating for the new state property tax.  Her attempt to redistribute wealth in RI has gained national attention.  The Washington Examiner quotes Americans for Tax Reform as saying "this tax hike will have the effect of leaving swaths of "Blank Space" throughout RI as small business owners and retirees opt for more friendly states who aren't engaging in this petty class warfare that will do little to solve the state's massive $200 million overspending problem."

 

Same goes for the sales taxes she wants to impose on non-owner occupied

residences. Who do you think that extra expense will hurt?

 

The Irony.

And yet where are the measures to seriously tighten the state's belt?  More games like refinancing debt, which Raimondo was opposed to when considering re-amortization of the pension obligation (and rightly so because it only adds more cost in total) until she wasn't opposed to refinancing of the state debt (which may add more to the total cost when details emerge).

 

And when faced with structural deficits, there are no proposed policies to deal with the structural deficits with the exception of nebulous savings from a group of people looking at the issue of Medicaid who are expected to miraculously find a cure for what ails RI's Medicaid system.

 

This week, the House (listed below) will have hearings on specific articles and sections of the budget so if you are inclined, you can delve a bit deeper into the specifics of the Governor's budget.

 

Happening Outside the General Assembly. 

By now you realize that you are simply an onlooker as a taxpayer.The "out-of-the-blue" pension deal is a perfect example of that. Not only did this new deal seem to come from nowhere, once it appeared, we were not allowed to know anything about it. Talk about a travesty of justice. We who pay the bill when it is due do not get to see how the 'new deal' is structured and what it will cost us. 

 

Worse yet, it is the General Assembly who must pass any type of legislation to change the pension reform bill that was passed (and passed by a very large majority).  Why is it that the court system is cutting out two very important pieces of this difficult puzzle? The first deal was voted down. It really is time to fish or cut bait. This pension suit needs to go to trial to determine once and for all if it is constitutional. 

 

RI public union employees need to know, the taxpayer needs to know and the rest of the country could use a definitive answer as well. Although public pensions are no longer in the news much, they are still an enormous burden for so many local and state governments, but the currently estimated burden is only half the story. The other half is the fact that the pension liabilities are calculated on dream interest rates. Have you received an average of 8% on your investments in the past 10 years? Do you expect to receive that in the next 15 or 20 years?  Yet many of our municipal pension liabilities are determined based on that assumption. Even our state pension liability is calculated at 7.5% and that seems like a dream. Justin Katz from the Ocean State Current points to the absolute absurdity of this rate when he notes that the state would need to earn an average of 10% over the next 14 years given that it only earned an average of 4.8% in the past 14 years. 

 

Everyone is forgetting the pensioner. The reform was needed not only to help the taxpayer but to secure the retirement benefits for public union employees. No one wants to believe it, but it could very well be a Central Falls situation for many of these plans - bankruptcy and benefit cuts.  The state would not be able to afford to bail these pensions out like they did with Central Falls.

 

Where do you stand on the pension deal?  We urge you to email Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Paiva Weed and let them know if you want the General Assembly to hold their ground on pension reform when it appears that reform didn't really even go far enough but now more givebacks are demanded.

 

What's Happening in the General Assembly This Week. 

You will see that this week there are hearings on bills that require more unfunded mandates for municipalities, more regulation on business and, of course, more giveaways for subsidized daycare. There is also a bill, sponsored primarily by public union representatives, to remove any responsibility to measure the success of our children's education system.  However, on the upside, there is a hearing for a bill that will help improve competition amongst health insurers and hopefully drive down the cost of medical insurance. 

 

Fortunately for taxpayers, Representatives Morgan, Lancia, Reilly, Price and Filippi have introduced a bill, H 5984, that would require a referendum for any public financing or tax relief in connection with a Red Sox stadium.  These representatives are looking out for the taxpayer.There should be no reason this bill doesn't pass out of committee when it is heard. In light of 38 Studios, the voice of the governed shouldn't be ignored. 

  

Speaking of Ignored…. 

And what have you heard from any elected officials about a seemingly $150 million overspending in municipal fire service? That is real money flowing out of your wallet and into the black hole of government services.

 

WatchdogRI's  data analysis compares the cost of fire service in RI to that of comparable counties.  Last week the Senate passed a bill, S 415, to create a commission to study a replacement mechanism for the gas tax. It seems that time would be better spent on a commission that looks at rooting out the potential waste in fire service rather than considering a pie-in-the-sky idea like eliminating the gas tax.  We urge you to email Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Paiva Weed and let them know that you want to use the WatchdogRI report as a starting point for a commission to look into the cost of municipal fire service and to look at alternative ways to structure fire service in RI.

 

There is a Bright Spot on the Horizon. 

Fortunately, H 5261, a bill allowing bake sales at polling places, is receiving a second hearing for consideration this week. At least we will be able to eat cake while Rome is burning.

  

TUE, MAR 31

 

House Finance                                        Chairman Gallision 

Room 35, rise (4:30pm)

 

Budget Articles:

Art. 10 - Bond Premiums

Art. 12 - Tobacco Settlement Financing Trust

Art. 13 - Restricted Receipts

Art. 14 - State Budget

Art. 21 - Transportation

Art. 26 - DMV

 

House Judiciary                                       Chairman Keable  

Room 101, rise (4:30pm)

 

H 5453  Establishes registration requirements for drones and criminalizes the invasion of privacy resulting from them.

Sponsors: Gallison,Carnevale,Tanzi,Solomon,Casey

 

H 5454  Prohibits law enforcement from using drones without a proper warrant.

Sponsors: Filippi,Roberts,Blazejewski,Barros,Morgan

 

House Corporations                               Chairman Kennedy  

Room 203, rise (4:30pm)

 

H 5704  Allows RI residents to purchase health insurance from out-of-state companies and requires the Health Exchange to make this option known to consumers.

Sponsors: Filippi,Reilly,Roberts,Price,Costa

 

H 5701 Mandates more business regulation - prohibits the sale of tobacco at any retail establishment which has a pharmacy in the location.

Sponsors: Kazarian,Tanzi,Ackerman,Regunberg,Maldonado

 

Senate Health and Human Services            Chairman Miller    

Room Senate Lounge, rise (4:30pm)

 

S 484  Requires a plan for increasing the rates for licensed daycare providers through tiered reimbursement. As OSTPA has said in the past, apparently $50 million in subsidies is not enough in this tiny state and the fact that the Supreme Court has said public unionization of daycare workers is unconstitutional is of no concern to the General Assembly.

Sponsors: Crowley, Metts, Goldin

 

WED, APR 1

 

House Finance                Chairman Gallison  

Room 35, rise (4:30pm)

 

Budget Articles:

Art. 15 - Local Agriculture and Seafood Act

Art. 16 - Bays, Rivers and Watersheds

Art. 1/Sec. 14 - Resource Recovery Transfer

Art. 1/Sec. 16 - NBC Transfer

Art. 1/Sec. 18 - Airport Corp Transfer

 

House Health, Education and Welfare     Chairman McNamara  

Room 135, rise (4:30pm)

 

H 5845  Allows parents to opt out of PARCC standardized testing or any standardized testing.

Sponsors: Amore, Canario, Regunberg, Keable, O'Brien

 

H 5495  Another unfunded school mandate requiring a social worker in schools for every 400 children.

Sponsors: Kazarian, Messier, Amore, Bennett, O'Brien

 

House Corporations                                    Chairman Kennedy  

Room 101, rise (4:30pm)

 

H 5610  Allows big brother to photograph license plates around the state.

Sponsor: Jacquard

 

House Judiciary                Chairman Keable 

Room 205, rise (4:30pm)

 

H 5935 Requires board of elections to randomly audit campaign finance accounts.

Sponsors: Craven,Handy,Serpa,O'Brien,McKiernan

 

H 5654  Vests the governor with sole authority to nominate, on the basis of merit, all judges and magistrates, to all courts, from a list submitted by the judicial nominating commission, with the advice and consent of the senate.

Sponsors: Tanzi,Marcello,Ajello,Newberry,Carson

 

H 5961 Requires that the newly formed Cumberland Fire District Fire Committee be governed by state election laws.

Sponsors: Ackerman,MacBeth,McLaughlin,Phillips

 

THU, APR 2

 

House Finance            Chairman Gallison   

Room 35, rise (4:30pm)

 

Budget Articles:

Art. 17 - CDYF

Art. 18 - Div. of Advocacy

Art. 19 - Consolidation of Dept. of Health Boards

Art. 20 - Professional Licenses

 

 

 

If you have found our Weekly Legislative Alerts informative & the website a good source of information, please consider a donation to help us maintain these tools.  RI citizens have very little access to the candid information the OSTPA provides & even less access to a platform that connects the dots from the legislators, to the legislation, to the resulting impact on the RI economy

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE

 

 

If you received this as a forwarded email & would like to subscribe then please contact us at:

 

info@ostpa1.com     

                                    


Visit our web site at:

www.ostpa1.com

 

What does OSTPA talk about?

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter @OSTPA1

 

Like this message? Share with your friends!

 

[facebooklike]   [twittertweet]