June 15, 2007

Republican Budget Amendment Preview

Carroll Andrew Morse

Jim Baron of the Pawtucket Times has a preview of the some of the amendments that House Republicans will offer during today’s floor session on the state budget…

The House Republican Caucus - tiny but feisty, and even pugnacious when they think the need arises - wants to amend the state budget to increase school aid, slice social service programs, scuttle plans for a northern Rhode Island Courthouse, and restore tax reductions for business....

The Republicans' top priority, Minority Leader Robert Watson said, is to "restore education funding, at the very least to the governor's level, without tax increases." Several of their prepared amendments - not all of which will even get introduced during tonight's debate - aim to do just that.

"I think even the governor agrees that a 3 percent increase is insufficient, but 0 is worse," Watson said, referring to the $19 million Carcieri recommended in his budget to give an across-the-board increase in state aid to all school districts....

A proposed amendment authored by Warwick Rep. Joseph Trillo would allow school districts to abolish some contracts and force the unions to renegotiate them.

Another amendment would cut 3 percent from the bottom line of the Executive Office of the Department of Health and Human Services, allowing the department to decide how the cut should be distributed.

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My predictions:

Republicans will try to introduce measures that will be laughed out of the Assembly.

Democrats will push through a crappy budget.

The Governor will veto.

Democrats will easily override the veto.

I will move out of the state.

Posted by: Greg at June 15, 2007 2:31 PM

Sorry to be repetitive from another thread.

But how does any representative go home and say to his/her constituents, including members of the NEA, "the Governor wanted to give you more education aid but I voted against it"?

Posted by: SusanD at June 15, 2007 2:36 PM

Dear SusanD,

Very easily thanks to the current scandal.

Between Commander General Gio and the DOT, we plan to pick up seats regardless of what gets passed. Those on the Left will moan a little, those in the center will be very happy and that small bunch on the Right aren't going to vote for us anyway.

Wait till we run ads next cycle about the GOP trying to force Amendments through that would raise taxes.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at June 15, 2007 2:39 PM

You're forgetting that the facts don't matter to NEA members. The unions have been engaged in an organized campaign to demonize Carcieri from the get go.

Contrary to the opinion of many people on this blog, most Rhode Islanders aren't happy about seeing people get laid off. Carcieri will take the blame because the Democrats will pin the "look what the corporate CEO did to the Joe Six Pack state worker" tag to him. The fact that Carcieri wants more money for education than the Democrats will get lost in the mudslinging. The Democrats know this and will exploit the DOT issue and the layoff issue to take people's attention away from their education cutbacks.

And I'm saying this as a Carcieri voter who believes Carcieri is 100% correct to lay off the 1,000 state workers.

Posted by: Anthony at June 15, 2007 2:52 PM

I gotta get me one of those Bobby Olivera Crystal Balls.

I forget, did he predict that Charlie The Ferengi was going to win the Gov seat?

Posted by: Greg at June 15, 2007 3:16 PM

BobbyO -

You know as well as anyone that voters have the attention span of a gnat. Especially the uninformed voters of this state. This DOT scandal will be a distant memory as soon as the Feds start frog-marching Senators out of the Capitol Building. This is just a distraction from the real corruption in this state.

Posted by: Joe at June 15, 2007 5:35 PM

Dear Joe,

We can take Corrente down whenever we want. Therefore, there will be no frog marching. It was announced today that Justice is investigating the USAG. We know Corrente is dirty. This just makes it easier.

Dear Greg,

No I did not. I did predict that the reace was too close to call. However, the Carcieri is Bush, Bush is Carcieri message appeared way too late.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at June 15, 2007 6:18 PM

The Republicans' top priority, Minority Leader Robert Watson said, is to "restore education funding,
How pathetic that the main priority of the "opposition" party is to throw more millions at the {inflammatory description deleted} NEA/AFT.

Posted by: Mike at June 15, 2007 7:16 PM


Your claim that the center will be happy, no matter what legislation is passed, assumes that the center is ready to accept the message of decline and despair, i.e. regular citizens must forever accept paying more to government to receive less, that has become the Democrats' stock and trade. I don't think the public is quite that demoralized yet.

Many denizens of the political center are not going to be happy with the legislature's decision to cut education funding out of the Governor's budget to fund welfare. The Democrats now own an unpopular posititon on a major issue that's explainable in one sentence.

This doesn't mean that the Republican political guys will automatically be able to build on the solid work the Republican policy guys in the budget office and in the legislature have done, but it does mean that they'll get the chance to. I wouldn't count on an automatic pickup of seats in '08 if all you've got is inaccurate slogans.

Posted by: Andrew at June 15, 2007 7:23 PM

Can I please get some perspective on something that happened at the House budget debate tonight?

I arrived a little after 8 pm and go to the Gallery; the House is in recess for its supper break. They come back. Speaker Murphy gavels the session to order and proceeds to make half a dozen routine announcements, including congratulations to three or four House members for wedding anniversaries coming up.

He then announces that it is the birthday of Finance Chair Steve Costantino. As everyone applauds, a woman walks into the Chamber with a big bunch of balloons (black, for some reason) and hands them to Steve, as an accordian player appears in the Chamber in front of Steve and plays and everyone sings "happy birthday". Best wishes from Minority Leader Watson; words of appreciation from Steve himself.

Then Speaker Murphy says, "Well, we haven't had dessert yet so, Steve, if you want to lead the parade, we'll all go back and have birthday cake." And the House, which had just reconvened to debate one of the most important items of the people's business, ALL TROOP OUT FOR CAKE.

A woman behind me says softly, "I thought they were kidding ..." It was a little too surreal for me at that point so I left.

My question is, is this a normal incident for the annual House budget hearing?

Posted by: SusanD at June 15, 2007 9:58 PM

I bet they bought the birthday cake with taxpayer money.

Posted by: Anthony at June 15, 2007 10:50 PM


Posted by: SusanD at June 15, 2007 11:28 PM

Dear SusanD,

Usually, the budget is not done for another two weeks and as of right now, quickly checking, nobody's birthday falls around then.

I would suggest that you turn on C-Span II for an entire day and take a look at what the United State Senate might take breaks for.

It's just not that big a deal. Kind of annoying for staff, I was Ways and Means Staff for the fiscal 91 Mass budget, but not that big a deal otherwise.


Just like birthday cake for Republican Senator Gibbs, that money comes from the JCLS budget. JCLS, as you know, has minority representation.


Just about everyone not on the far left would like to see education funding level funded. Most folks understand that when it comes to social services, it's pay me now or pay me later.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at June 16, 2007 1:12 AM

"paying more to government to receive less, that has become the Democrats' stock and trade"

Good point, Andrew. For many years now, that's been their creed and stock in trade.

"How pathetic that the main priority of the "opposition" party is to throw more millions at the {inflammatory description deleted} NEA/AFT"

Not entirely, Mike. It was to contrast the priorities of the two parties. Democrats made it clear last week that welfare - paying money to irresponsible adults - is more important to them than educating our children.

Posted by: SusanD at June 16, 2007 7:42 AM

"This DOT scandal will be a distant memory as soon as the Feds start frog-marching Senators out of the Capitol Building.

(Great phrasing of the second part of that sentence.)

I take it that the DOT falls under the Exec Branch? Most people are going to think it's like the rest of state gov't; controlled by the Dems and loaded up with their overpaid cronies. The only thing that will register about the DOT situation is that Don Carcieri called in the State Police and the feds to investigate.

Posted by: SusanD at June 17, 2007 5:51 AM

Dear Susan,

When we get done, the terms DOT and Old Stone will be interchangable.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at June 17, 2007 2:10 PM


1. Most people want education to be level-funded? That’s going to come as a surprise to people in say, Portsmouth, where the now-famous tent vote to cut the school budget was about 50-50. Now that the Democrats have become the party of statewide education cuts, some of that 50% who voted for a higher school budget are going to be wondering how well a party that wants to reduce education funding to protect welfare spending represents their interests.

2. The message that "Governor Carcieri used to work at Old Stone Bank, so you should vote to put Peter ‘I don’t care how much your town has to spend, or what it has to pay for, so long as state mandates are the same everywhere’ Kilmartin in a position of legislative power" isn’t going to be a great one for ’08.

3. Finally, perhaps you can share a local angle on this issue that we’re missing: Why did Amy Rice, one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the House, make a big deal of her vote with the Republicans against level funding, if she believes that level funding is popular with her constituents?

Posted by: Andrew at June 17, 2007 4:17 PM

Dear Andrew,

1. So in turn they are going to vote for the GOP?? Let's see, folks are going to vote for the party of a Governor who hates teachers because in one year tough decisions had to be made?? Not very likely.

2. Rep. Kilmartin's seat is safe for eternity if he wants it to be. Does any District really want to put their seat into the hands of a GOP rookie who not only can't get grants but also can't get a bill out of committee??

3. Rep. Rice has Middletown and Portsmouth. There are exceptions to every rule, more so to the Portsmouth side. We'll see what Senator Felag's read is in a few days.

Let's not forget:

Every single one of you on this Blog that made a predicition predicted gains for RIGOP during the last cycle. You also predicted holding on to more than one statewide seat. Things for RIGOP, since the Governor's shield of "I'm clean" has been fractured, may be worse now then they were then.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at June 17, 2007 4:46 PM


1. So say you try to push your "the Governor hates teachers" propaganda because you don't have any actual facts you're comfortable arguing. (In fact, isn't it Paul Crowley who has more or less said directly that it's his intention to put the squeeze on local school committees, so they'll be forced to make cuts? Sounds to me, by your rhetoric, that it's Paul Crowley and maybe Steven Costantino that hate teachers.)

Anyway, the Governor and his supporters have a clean, simple response available: they're the ones who want to give more state money to the schools, but couldn't, because the legislature decided that government salaries and welfare spending were more important than education spending.

The deficits aren't going away. They're structural. We'll likely be facing the same sort of budget crisis next year. Any sitting legislator who tries to explain his or her vote to level-fund education as the result of a "one time emergency" will get laughed out of his or her own coffee hour. And the GOP will have a solid case that, without a change in makeup, the legislature is likely to continue cutting education to fund the Democratic leadership's more important priorities -- manitaining the cost of government at current levels and funding generous welfare programs.

None of this guarantees GOP success (like I said before, policy guys being on the right track doesn't guarantee that political guys will take advantage of it), but it does mean the GOP has a decent story to tell to an active group of centrist voters in the '08 cycle.

2. I know Kilmartin is safe. But say we're talking, for instance, about Donna Walsh's seat. Do Charlestown voters really think that voting for someone who is going to blindly support whatever the Peter Kilmartin/House leadership position on education is, even if its forcing expensive mandates on small towns, or coming up with a "funding formula" that gives Providence residents an overal tax cut while giving Charlestown residents an overall tax increase, is such a slam dunk that no other option should be considered?

Posted by: Andrew at June 17, 2007 6:33 PM

"Most people want education to be level-funded?"

The other reason level funding is particularly difficult on cities and towns this year is because they had been ordered by the state to come up with an increase in their contribution to the public pension fund. So if by some miracle the school budget of a city or town was unchanged from last year, they still needed more money than last year in order to comply with this state mandate - unfunded at this point, thanks to the General Assembly.

Posted by: SusanD at June 17, 2007 8:10 PM
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