March 28, 2009

Filling Budget Holes by Digging Our Grave

Justin Katz

The Democrats on the House Finance Committee should be remembered for their role in driving the state of Rhode Island farther into the ground. The Projo summary reads like a natural parody:

Gas tax:
Increase by 2 cents per gallon, to 33 cents

Cigarette tax:
Increase by $1, to $3.46 per pack

Municipal aid:
Cut by $55 million

Education aid:
Cut by $9.1 million

State employee pension plan:


Perhaps outshining the committee, though he's not on it, is House Majority Leader Gordon Fox, on the strength of this pathetic statement — which adjective I don't use lightly:

Asked if the midyear cut was fair, House Majority Leader Gordon D. Fox said, "Nothing in this situation is fair to anybody. But somehow we found ourselves here globally. So everything's unfair. I can't even use that term anymore. What's fair to anybody because the whole world is upside down?"

This is a man entrusted to make decisions for our state? In one paragraph, he brushes off economic factors and political problems unique to Rhode Island and makes a dim-witted case for arbitrary decision making. Granted, the question was silly, but the answer is that fairness must be judged from a broader perspective in times of crisis. What's fair is what gets the state out of its predicament, and raising taxes and fees while pushing the responsibility for deeper tax increases down to the municipalities (by not giving them statutory relief from mandates and requirements) will fail utterly at that mission.

As they flap about in their cluelessness, these committee members and like-mindless allies reveal quite clearly their intention to bumble from one year to the next, with the foresight of hamsters in plastic balls repeatedly bouncing off a sliding glass door. Committee Chairman Steven Costantino puts forward the inane assessment that "we're doing the same thing [as the governor], but we're doing it differently"; the governor should swear on the soul of Roger Williams that he will veto any attempts to squeeze yet another year of decision-free vapidity out of Rhode Island's ongoing calamity

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Getting closer to the end. Both kids have now moved out of state (thank God); when both sets of parents are gone, we're gone another part of the country where they know how to treat their taxpayers properly.

Costantino is a coward and the GA should reject this abomination, send it back, and tell him to get it right.

I have already written to my State Rep telling him to vote NO!

Have you?

Posted by: John at March 28, 2009 4:29 PM

Any business (i.e., employer) that doesn't have to be physically located in RI, and hasn't already starting the planning for moving out, should immediately start that planning.

The future of this state is bleak indeed.

The future here resembles Detroit, not Austin or Charlotte.

Posted by: Tom W at March 28, 2009 7:02 PM

It took two days for the biggest problem with this budget to hit me.

We need to be reducing taxes, not debating which ones to increase. Even if we kept all taxes level, that would still leave us with all of the bad rankings, including in what is ultimately our worst category - business climate.

The fact that some hard budgetary decisions were made by the General Assembly only last year, on the eve of a recession, not fifteen-twenty years ago, does not change the dire need to go in the other direction and start improving the tax situation in this state.

(Ditto what John said about contacting state reps and senators.)

Posted by: Monique at March 28, 2009 7:06 PM

Exactly Monique.

Hence my comment that any business that doesn't have to be here should be making plans to move.

The voters have shown no inclination to reform the General Assembly, which in turn has shown no inclination to reform its tax and spend ways, and functional hostility to business.

Which is why Rhode Island's future is the same one as it has had in recent decades: occasional upward spikes on a long-term economic trendline that is downward.

Posted by: Tom W at March 28, 2009 8:31 PM

I will e-mail all the reps and sens from my town and tell them no new taxes or tax increases period. It will probably fall on deaf ears, but I will tell them anyway. I don't know what language they speak on the planet that they come from, but I though we made it abundantly clear, they need to control spending above all else.

Posted by: kathy at March 29, 2009 5:04 PM
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