February 4, 2009

Go, Raptakis, Go!

Justin Katz

Every Senator and Representative in Rhode Island should back this bill introduced by Senator Leonidas Raptakis (D, Coventry, East Greenwich, Warwick, West Warwick):

Saying that the use of a "Caruolo action" by school committees "is simply giving them an out from living within their budget," Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis has introduced legislation to suspend such legal actions for the next five years.

Named for the former House Majority Leader who proposed the legislation, George Caruolo, the law allows a school district to sue a municipality for more cash if it contends the amount budgeted by the community is insufficient to properly run the schools.

Caruolo actions have come into play in Cranston and West Warwick in school district efforts to force the municipalities to increase school spending.

"State and local government are in the midst of the worst fiscal crisis in memory," said Senator Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, Warwick, West Warwick). "There is not a school district in this state that isn't feeling its belt being tightened. To allow Caruolo actions to continue while the state works through its budget problems and attempts to bring real reform to education funding would only lead to more and more chaos."

Senator Raptakis said that a Caruolo action is contrary to "3050," the number of the Senate bill passed two years ago that attempts to bring tax relief to communities by setting restrictions on spending growth. "Technically, the two should not be able to exist together. The continued existence of the Caruolo action is simply giving school districts a hammer to beat over the head of municipalities that have no more money to give."

The Raptakis bill, 2009-S 0113, has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. It is co-sponsored by Sen. Leo R. Blais (R-Dist. 21, Coventry, Foster, Scituate), Sen. Marc A. Cote (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), Sen. William A. Walaska (D-Dist. 30, Warwick) and Sen. Edward J. O'Neill (I-Dist. 17, Lincoln, North Providence, Pawtucket).

The bill would officially suspend the provisions of that portion of state law referred to as the Caruolo Act effective this year through January 1, 2014.

This is the first bill on which I've noticed Sen. O'Neill's name, by the way, and I look forward to seeing it more often on worthy — necessary — legislation.

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"Just to divisive"

Posted by: Mike at February 4, 2009 7:13 PM

What is sort of a parallel to this, and that makes no sense is that the school committee negotiates the contract and sets the school department budget but they have zero ability to affect income. It's like shopping with mom's credit card. You do all the buying but do none of the paying. We need to get the school committees out of the contract negotiation game. If we can't get a central, statewide negotiating team for the towns, kinda like the teachers have, then what they should do is hand that over to the town council, or the mayor, or create a negotiating committee made of of members of the town council, school committee and mayor. Then the people who actually set the tax rate and pay the bill have a say in the negotiations. The way it is now, makes zero sense to me and that would also negate the need for Caruolo.

Posted by: Patrick at February 4, 2009 9:14 PM

Caruolo needs to go away, so does the Michaelson Act.

Posted by: Frank at February 5, 2009 7:58 AM

>>Caruolo needs to go away, so does the Michaelson Act.

Second that.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 5, 2009 6:52 PM
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