June 21, 2007

Representative Steven Costantino: Chairman of the Bureaucracy-Is-Beautiful Caucus

Carroll Andrew Morse

Charles Bakst’s column in today’s Projo contains this item about House Finance Chairman Steven Costantino (D-Providence), generally considered to be the main architect of the House’s budget…

Interestingly, Carcieri hoped to spend $19 million more on school aid. But Costantino, looking for savings, wasn’t convinced such an outlay, spread over the various districts, would make much difference in quality.
But wait a second. During the budget debate, House Minority Leader Robert Watson (R-East Greenwich/West Greenwich) proposed amending the education funding article to redirect a $6 million increase in spending on state-level education bureaucracy into aid for local districts. Rep. Costantino and the Democrats rejected the Wastson proposal (13 Democrats did join the 13 House Republicans in voting for the amendment; see pages 117-118 of the June 15 House Journal for the amendment and the roll call tally).

So in Rep. Costantino's mind, $19 million in local education spending -- the spending closest to the classroom -- is an unimportant luxury, but a $6 million increase for centralized, remote bureaucracy is an untouchable necessity. Could Steven Costantino's philosophy that bureaucracy-is-beautiful, shared by many Rhode Island legislators, be a part of the reason why we pay so much for so little in terms of education in RI?

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'Cause a top heavy education department is such a critical component of learning.

Posted by: SusanD at June 21, 2007 9:36 PM

It IS a critical component of getting the support of the NEA come election time.

Ain't that right, Walshie. You scum-sucking leech.

Posted by: Greg at June 22, 2007 7:56 AM

1. I think we need to stop talking about throwing cash at the AFT/NEA as good things. Costs need to be cut, ever increasing funding is not the answer.
2. With all the BRAND NEW TAXES that are going to be passed over a veto, if the Republicans can't co-ordinate a campaign against some of these Democrat legislators in the suburbs they may as well pack it in. I speak of:
1. Hospital bed tax
2. Fire alarm tax
3. Cable tax
4. Satellite tax
5. Water tax (no air tax-yet)
6. Real estate transfer tax

Posted by: Mike at June 22, 2007 10:17 AM

Mike and Greg,

I don't think it's fair to pin this one on the teacher's unions. This, I believe, is a pretty clear case of the legislature saying that when resources get scarce, state government and state employees are higher in the pecking order than local teachers.

Posted by: Andrew at June 22, 2007 10:23 AM


Don't forget that the Democrats' budget also largely protects RI's social welfare programs too. The outlines of the end game for RI's slowly building fiscal train wreck are becoming clear: (1) protect unionized state employees; (2) protect social welfare programs; (3) avoid raising visible taxes and instead keep pushing up a wide range of user fees to eek out whatever revenue gains are available; and (4) through progressive reductions in state aid, transfer the impact of the fiscal crisis to cities and towns, where bankruptcy law is well established (i.e., there is no established law for a state to declare bankruptcy). While one can debate its merits, you have to admit this does constitute a plan.

Whether unionized teachers feel good about sacrificing their economic well-being for the sake of maintaining RI's welfare programs is another story...

Posted by: John at June 22, 2007 10:48 AM

>>Whether unionized teachers feel good about sacrificing their economic well-being for the sake of maintaining RI's welfare programs is another story...

THEY HAVE to feel good about it, because it's "for the children!"

Posted by: Tom W at June 22, 2007 11:10 AM

Is there a bigger lying fraud around than Steve Costantino? Steve is a bright guy and knows full well how he and his budget have royally screwed this state. Let's call it Mayoral Training Class because while Gordon Fox is in training to run for House Speaker Costantino is in training to run for mayor of Providence in 2010.
What a sad lot! We are soooooooo screwed.

Posted by: Tim at June 23, 2007 9:39 AM

"Steve is a bright guy and knows full well how he and his budget have royally screwed this state."

Actually, a lot of them know better, Tim, but deliberately choose, time after time, to do the wrong thing for their personal advantage. That's why the adjective "evil" applies to them, because such behavior is one of the definitions.

Posted by: SusanD at June 23, 2007 11:55 AM
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