January 23, 2008

State of the State: Governor Issues A Call to Arms

Marc Comtois

Here is Governor Carcieri's prepared State of the State speech. The ProJo covers it and gets reaction from the usual suspects complaining about how the Governor isn't working with them.

“He says, ‘This is my agenda and everybody has to work on it.’ That’s a corporate approach. That’s one-side unilateral approach. That doesn’t work,” said AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer George Nee. “The governor should be a leader of bringing people together to have people solve joint problems, not just work on his agenda. That’s the problem.”

The executive director of the largest state employees union agreed: “I heard more of the same: Attacking the unions. Attacking the elderly. Attacking the poor. No job creation,” said Dennis Grilli, head of Council 94, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees.

But they only hear what they want to. From the speech:
Tonight, I ask the General Assembly, the public employee union leadership, and all municipal officials to work together with my administration to find ways to implement these changes.

They will transform our state and secure an exciting future for our children. In the world of politics, we may be Republicans, Democrats, or Independents – but we are all Rhode Islanders, and we’re here because we love our state. To fix this problem, it will take all of us in this room working together.

Good luck, Governor. To too many people in that room last night, "working together" means "do what I want". But I think Governor Carcieri knows that, which is why he attempted to appeal directly to the non-trough feeding citizens of Rhode Island:
...you should also know this. This plan faces many obstacles. Everyone with something to lose will lobby this Assembly furiously against these spending reductions. If they succeed, this plan will falter and your taxes will go up....

So, tonight, I call on you – the hardworking Rhode Islander; the average citizen anxious about your own rising costs and the nation’s economic outlook – to make your voice heard.

Your voice must be just as loud as the powerbrokers and special interests that regularly patrol these halls. If you want change, you must be a part of it!

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Posted by: Greg at January 23, 2008 10:34 AM

Your mention of 'call to arms' is quite in line with the image on http://www.startri.com today

Posted by: Tim at January 23, 2008 2:30 PM

I liked the Governor's rather blunt description and his direct appeal to the average Rhode Islander.

Carcieri is correct that everyone with something to lose will fight the plan. That is, after all, their job. Unions are formed to protect their members and special interest groups are formed to promote special interests. I don't blame special interest groups or unions for doing so. It's a democracy and these groups have done a good job exerting a disproportionate influence to promote their agenda. They run for office, attend rallies, vote and get involved.

As much as people want to blame unions for the state's problems, union members only make up 15% of the workers in Rhode Island. 85% of Rhode Island workers don't belong to a union. It's the 85% that need to move beyond apathy and say "enough is enough".

I recently read a post where someone said they didn't want to get involved in the political process because they didn't like the people who were currently involved. But unless the other 85% of income tax paying workers step up, nothing will change.

Perhaps Carcieri's State of the State speech will wake some people up. Maybe it won't. Either way, Carcieri's speech was one that needed to be given.

Posted by: Anthony at January 23, 2008 3:03 PM

Almost 3/4 into his Governorship, Carcieri has yet to convince me he can get anything done. The state is clearly in much worse shape than it was when he took office. He had me at "Big Audit". But his failure to execute, throughout his tenure, has left me with very little confidence that he will be the one to turn things around.

Posted by: George at January 23, 2008 3:45 PM

Yeah, what George said. We as a party would have been better off if Myrth won the election. At least WE couldn't be blamed for this Charlie Foxtrot.

Posted by: Greg at January 23, 2008 3:47 PM

I have trouble believing that the state's budget went completely to hell just over the past 12 months, which is what Carcieri, who painted such a rosy picture at last year's SOS, basically told us last night.

Posted by: rhody at January 23, 2008 4:43 PM

We need to reduce the budget by 2% - $150 million. Its not quite fair, but I think he should have asked - of all taxpayers - could you reduce your personal budget by 2% if times were tough? Have you had to do it? Why can't we ask this of the legislature and state workers?

Also, I'm sick and tired of the bloviations of the usual suspects. They are not unbiased, their thoughts could be mailed in or made up on the spot by a competent reporter. I swear, the 'press' is so concerned about balance they lose sight of the serious issues. Where is the opinion of the guy who in danger of losing his house because his taxes are twice as high as they would be in the many other states RI'ers are moving to?

Posted by: chuckR at January 23, 2008 5:18 PM

The Gov, by nature, is a very optimistic guy, so to see him be able to hold back on the rosiness factor is something to behold (I was very happy that my "the ship of state is taking on water" comment got in there somehow) ;)

I think the tone of the governor's speech was very appropriate to the seriousness of the problem, and that the speech was one of his better ones. It had some passion. I really liked the end where he basically said his budget will mean "your taxes won't be higher", and the alternative is "higher taxes". Good framing of the issues.

Keep it mind, he was basically alone up there in a den of thieves. Some of his own GOP folks there can't even be trusted. I think he could have called out certain members of the General Assembly more specifically for being on the take, and for squandering our state's resources, and stuff like that, but he's not usually that direct.

The only thing I'm really hopeful about is that the Democrat leadership seemed completely devoid of any ideas of their own, so his are likely to be adopted by default. Plus, I don't think [even they] are dumb enough to openly advocate for raising taxes in an election year over the governor's veto if they tried to do it to appease their pimp overlords.

I'll put this in writing so you can admire my amazing psychic abilities later ... don't be surprised if there is a supplemental budget for FY 2009 when the revenue projections fall short yet again. That means more cuts.

Posted by: Will at January 23, 2008 7:26 PM

"The only thing I'm really hopeful about is that the Democrat leadership seemed completely devoid of any ideas of their own, so his are likely to be adopted by default."

In that regard, no blame accrues to the G.A. leadership because there really are no other ideas. We are the seventh (or forth) highest taxed state, so the only thing to be done is, as the Governor suggested, to cut spending.

Posted by: Monique at January 23, 2008 9:28 PM

I'll put this in writing so you can admire my amazing psychic abilities later ... don't be surprised if there is a supplemental budget for FY 2009 when the revenue projections fall short yet again. That means more cuts.
Posted by Will at January 23, 2008 7:26 PM
HAH-that's as predictable as humidity in August. Figure on $180 million. Just a way to defecit spend without deficit spending.
I have an idea that no one (LOL) has ever thought of before: TALK TO THE UNIONS!!!!
Progressives-economic illiterates who think everyone else is even dumber than they are.

Posted by: Mike at January 23, 2008 9:56 PM

Just a few months ago people were criticizing Carcieri for recommending too many cuts. When he vetoed past budgets that led to the current situation, the General Assembly simply overrode the veto.

It's easy to blame Carcieri for not having done enough, but remember that he was the only person on Smith Hill doing ANYTHING.

Rhody, I don't totally disagree with you. I pointed out last year that Carcieri's State of the State was overly optimistic, although even then Carcieri did warn about the need to contain spending.

Last year WAS a critical year in determining the financial future of the state. The General Assembly was at a fork in the road. It could have chosen to address fundamental spending issues or choose to find more short-terms fixes. Over Carcieri's objections, the General Assembly chose the short-terms fixes and prevented any real reform. RI is now going to pay.

So let's not try to blame Carcieri for things that aren't his fault.
Did Carcieri make some mistakes? Sure. Does he bear some responsibility because he didn't veto EVERY budget and he was overly optimistic? Sure. Could his team have "executed" better as George asserts? Sure.

But if you were to apportion blame on the political leadership, the General Assembly and its backers are responsible for 90% of the problem and Carcieri responsible for 10%. If they had followed Carcieri's recommendation, RI would be far better off today.

Even today, as the Governor gives a straightforward, unvarnished assessement with tough solutions, Democrats are sitting back criticzing him, but offering no solutions.

Posted by: Anthony at January 23, 2008 10:10 PM

--As much as people want to blame unions for the state's problems, union members only make up 15% of the workers in Rhode Island. 85% of Rhode Island workers don't belong to a union. It's the 85% that need to move beyond apathy and say "enough is enough".

Yeah but what percentage of the state workforce is union????

The problem is the government unions, not all unions.

The schmucks in private sector unions are getting just as screwed as the rest of us - their property taxes are also skyrocketing; their jobs continue to leave the state because taxes and Democrat corruption.

IN FACT THE PRIVATE SECTOR UNION MEMBERS ARE GETTING EVEN MORE SCREWED THAN THE REST OF US - they're being forced to pay dues that go toward funding "WorkingRI" and campaign donations to Democrat General Assembly members so that they turn around can tax and spend the sh** out of the private sector union members and encourage their employers to lay them off 'cause they're moving the company to South Carolina!

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at January 23, 2008 11:43 PM

As you listen and read in the weeks and months ahead take note at how often Senate President Joe Montalbano and House Speaker Bill Murphy are directly addressed and demanded to account for anything in the legislature.
Won't happen in Pravda. Won't happen on Ten News Conference. Won't happen on the Yorke show.
It's why nothing ever changes around here. Those who truly call the shots are never scrutinized and directly held accountable for anything that goes on.
Don't take my word for it. Just listen and read and take note of those who continually get the free media ride year in and year out here in Rhode Island.
And we wonder why people vote the way they do?

Posted by: Tim at January 24, 2008 6:45 AM

Tim, some of us have tried to seek accountability from Murphy and Montalbano, only to be told it's all the progressives' fault, not that of the Dem leadership which relegates progressives to the back bench.
Ragin', I'm thankful that my private sector union does not make donations to political parties or candidates (any donations we members make are entirely on our own - some members of my union prefer conservative candidates, and are entirely free to support them). This way, M&M do not get a penny of my dues.

Posted by: rhody at January 24, 2008 2:15 PM

Who the hell do you think puts M&M into their positions-Joe Trillo? Nope-it's Segal, Josh Miller, Dennigan, Handy, Ajiello, Slater, Diaz, Levesque, Walsh, Handy, Coderre, Pichardo, Almeida, Jacquard,Fogarty, Gallo ,Rice and Frank Fairy. EVERY progressive voted for M&M. EVERY progressive voted for the veto override which stipped the 3% education aid increase by "Enron Don" out of the budget.

Posted by: Mike at January 24, 2008 9:52 PM

I know gratuitous Ferri cheap shots are too easy to pass up, but he has not had a chance to vote on the leadership.
It would've been useless for progressives to go after Murphy and Montalbano - they simply didn't have the votes last year. You don't stage a coup until you're almost 100 percent certain you can take the king down. Depending on who gets voted in or out in November, M&M may be more vulnerable (and may require Trillo's help to keep themselves in power).
Don't count on the GOP to mount credible candidates against M&M.

Posted by: rhody at January 24, 2008 11:42 PM
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