December 3, 2009

About That Status Quo

Justin Katz

Meeting with East Greenwich town officials, Sen. Leonidas Raptakis (D, Coventry, East Greenwich, Warwick, West Warwick) spoke against state mandates:

"We have so many archaic statutes, contracts and mandates, unless we start deleting these mandates or give cities and towns latitude, we're going to start this revolving circle again, and it's going to get worse," he said. "If we don't get tough this year and next year, things are going to get worse for many years to come."

And House Minority Leader Bob Watson (R, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) made this interesting suggestion:

He also said he was intrigued by the idea of cities and towns protesting by withholding the funds they collect on behalf of the state.

That, he said, would get the General Assembly's attention. "I think that would create a great dynamic."

But missing from their comments — or at least reportage of them — is an explanation of what they would do to make up the difference for the cuts to municipalities that they oppose:

"I do not support any idea of taking monies off the table that have been earmarked for communities. I take that as irresponsible, particularly because we didn't give any relief from state mandates," said Watson. "I think there will be enough pressure to at least preserve the status quo."

The "status quo" is a deficit. It's a state with insufficient funds to pay its bills. Senators and representatives, especially, have a responsibility, if they oppose cutting one area of spending, to explain what area ought to see the cuts instead. When they meet with local officials, they ought to take the opportunity to explain the reality of that situation; perhaps they'll begin to loosen the logjam of apathy and ideology that's flooding the state.

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Somewhat tangential to your point in the post, I'm left wondering why we often see legislators like Raptakis, during the offseason, touting things that make sense, but then when we get back into session times, there's no real change. We see this all the time from random legislators. If they feel this way, why don't they make the changes? Unfunded state mandates, public sector unions and a bad business climate are probably the worst problems with this state. If Raptakis can file a bill to eliminate many of the things he's referring to, I think his stock will climb considerably. Can Leo get it done?

Posted by: Patrick at December 3, 2009 9:36 AM

The comments by Mr. Watson, and earlier comments by the Governor when he threatened layoffs or furloughs, show what rank amateurs we have as politicians on the Republican side.

In both cases, they could have taken the initiative to present their lists of unneeded mandates and other state expenses and demand that the General Assembly repeal them. By this simple action they could seize the moral high ground as the problem-solver, rather than merely be a whiner.

Posted by: BobN at December 3, 2009 11:36 AM

You haven't been paying attention. The Governor recommended to eliminate or suspend a very long list of unfunded mandates to the GA in last year's supplemental budget. The GA failed to act on them.

Posted by: John at December 4, 2009 11:40 AM

One fact of waging political battle is that you have to have a clear, strong message and repeat it so that it reaches everyone, more than once. (It's the secret of the success of the Left's Big Lie tactic).

Burying the recommendations in a complex budget document isn't going to inflame the taxpayers. Making speeches and issuing clear, simple press releases will be heard. I stand by my statement that Mssrs. Watson and Carcieri have failed to take the advantage in pressing this issue.

Posted by: BobN at December 4, 2009 1:05 PM
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