May 3, 2006

Governor to Poll the People

Marc Comtois

In an attempt to gage public support for amending the State Constitution, Governor Carcieri announced that he will be putting two non-binding questions on the ballot this November:

The first constitutional amendment would impose restrictions on annual increases in state spending, while also limiting increases in local property taxes to less than the current 5˝ percent yearly cap. In order to judge voter support for this amendment, the Governor will place the following question on the November ballot: “Should the Rhode Island Constitution be amended to limit the growth of state spending and to limit annual increases in local property taxes?”

The second amendment would empower the citizens of Rhode Island to directly change state laws and to amend the constitution through a process called “direct voter initiative.” Rhode Island voters will be asked to decide the following question: “Should the voters have the right to vote to enact laws and to amend the Constitution directly through a process called direct voter initiative?”

Meanwhile, the House is attempting to remove the Governor's ability to put questions directly on the ballot. They claim it is a Separation of Powers issue, apparently forgetting that Separation of Powers legislation would probably have never been implemented had then-Gov. Almond not placed similar non-binding resolutions on the ballot during the 1990s!
“This bill is nothing more than an effort to put a muzzle on the Governor," Governor Carcieri’s press secretary, Jeff Neal, said today. “Many of the legislators who support this bill have long opposed the Governor's efforts to shake up the power structure at the State House. Since they can't win on the merits of the issues, they have resorted to trying to rob the Governor of his ability to communicate with the voters on important issues.”

“Keep in mind that the General Assembly stymied every effort to pass Separation of Powers for years," Neal continued. "Governor Almond had to put the Separation of Powers question on the ballot as a nonbinding referendum before the General Assembly finally began to pay attention. Partially as a result of the overwhelming support that Governor Almond’s nonbinding question received, Governor Carcieri and others were finally able to win passage of Separation of Powers in 2003. If Governor Almond had been robbed of that authority, we’d still be arguing over Separation of Powers today.”

“Ironically, some legislators have argued that this is a Separation of Powers issue,” Neal said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Because this provision of law enables the Governor to put only nonbinding questions on the ballot, it doesn’t impinge on the legislature’s legitimate right to make the laws. Instead, all it does is force the General Assembly to pay attention to the will of the voters.”

“As a result, the Governor believes that the House should vote down this blatantly partisan and political effort to rob him of a legitimate power,” Neal concluded.

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Speaking of polls, the latest from Rasmussen shows Governor Carcieri trailing by 1% and Whitehouse within striking distance of Chafee. I find the gubernatorial results very, very odd.

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at May 4, 2006 12:53 PM

"Goldy", I saw the same thing. I'll wait until they do another before making a just doesn't seem correct. Dare I say I'd wait to see what Darrell West has to say?

Posted by: Marc Comtois at May 4, 2006 7:03 PM