September 22, 2010

Caprio's New Target

Justin Katz

So, in the year-plus prior to the election, General Treasurer Frank Caprio courted the Rhode Island right — Anchor Rising, the Ocean State Policy Research Institute, and the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition — to foster the general impression that he'd be a tolerable governor. He talked the small-business, free market talk.

During the primaries, while battling Attorney General Patrick Lynch, he tacked left. There were various examples of that move, but his active support for same-sex marriage comes to mind as something dramatically contrary to previous assurances to us.

Now that he's won the Democrat nomination, he seems to be moving toward the union-left:

State General Treasurer and Democratic candidate for governor Frank T. Caprio promised to "go out and get the money" to launch "one of the biggest public-works projects" Rhode Island has ever seen to put thousands to work fixing the state's road and bridges. "As much as we can do, as quick as we can do it," he said. "What we'll do is we'll sit down with the experts in the transportation area and the banking area, and we'll be a leader in the country in making sure we have the funding."

Sure. We'll just "go out and get the money" from all of those revenue sources that we're not yet exploiting so that we can create union jobs. The relevant question for conservative reform groups in the state is what happens when "get the money" comes into inevitable conflict with the interests of private-sector industry.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Your blind dislike for public sector unions has caused you to lose sight of the bigger picture; improving our infrastructure. When you are willing to jeopardize your own safety and quality of life because "the unions" will "get the money" maybe it's time to reassess your priorities.

We all use the roads and bridges. Private sector companies make a lot of money transporting goods over those roads. I suppose you think they shouldn't have to pay to keep them up.

Posted by: michael at September 22, 2010 12:31 PM

To the contrary, Michael. Your complicity in public-sector union machinations leads you to miss the salient fact in my point of view. Infrastructure is among the most basic government services, and we already pay for it. In part at the behest of unions, politicians habitually spend money on everything else and then proclaim a dire need to find more money.

I note no concern, on your part, that unions need to reassess their priorities because their primo deals absorb the money that might otherwise improve the "safety and quality of life" of the people of the state.

I know, I know. Private sector bigwigs have the money, and the unions are composed of humble working-class people... who can vote for more money for themselves at the expense of everybody else, especially the humble, working class folks in the private sector who lack the resources to adjust in reaction to changes in tax and regulatory policies.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 23, 2010 6:19 AM

"What we'll do is we'll sit down with the experts in the transportation area and the banking area, and we'll be a leader in the country in making sure we have the funding"

What exactly does that funding source look like?? He refers to "banking area". That makes it sound like the private sector - those mean, ol' banks - and not the taxpayer will pay for this enormous project. But highway projects are strictly in the public purview, whoich means public dollars (a.k.a., higher taxes) have to fund them.

The General Treasurer's statement sounds too much like those well-intentioned people who say: we have to find a different way to fund our education budgets; it's not right to put it all on property taxes.

As though there were an alternate source out there that is not comprised of pretty much the same group - people who own or rent real estate; people who own cars; people who have business inventory - currently picking up the tab. The same group, also, who would pay for the GT's grand vision of currying political favor ... er, of an infrastructure project.

Posted by: Monique at September 23, 2010 8:18 AM

How can you possibly tie unions into politicians spending money on "everything else?" The general, media fed conception is that "union pigs" care only about themselves.

And "primo deals" are nothing more than compensation for services rendered. You are looking in the wrong place for savings. "The unions" have given concessions for years, it has become crystal clear to me, and other like minded union members that it will never be enough, people will never be satisfied until they get everything for nothing.

Rhody mentioned in a recent comment that you can only bite the dog so much before he bites back, or something like that. It made sense to me, I'm tired of taking the blame for the states problems.

Maybe I just happen to surround myself with successful people, I don't know, but those I know who work as hard as I do in the private sector do as well or better than me, financially speaking. Comparing pensions, 401K's health care, salary, vacations, sick time, bonuses, and other things that go into a compensation package I've found that you get what you put in, regardless of public or private.

Posted by: michael at September 23, 2010 8:45 AM

As I've said before on this blog, the Caprio clan and their minions are actively conducting a whispering campaign amongst the municipal unions (cops, firemen, public works, Teamsters, Laborers) telling them municipal pensions and staffing levels will NOT be touched under little Frankie's governership.
Little Frankie's game is to keep raising property taxes whilst boasting "No New State Taxes". State being the operative word.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at September 23, 2010 11:06 AM

If all state subsidies to my town were eliminated, my property taxes would go up about 6%. If the town could repudiate the unfunded mandates and intrusive makework reporting, we might break even or better.

A URI professor friend insists that if the state up and decamped and URI went private, operating accordingly, the costs would come down as much as the pitiful state funding. URI is already about 88% private funded. Not a popular opinion at faculty union meetings- I doubt he even mentions it.

Posted by: chuckR at September 23, 2010 1:49 PM


I've noticed that it's a favorite trick of yours to fall back on phrases such as "compensation for services rendered." Of course, the whole discussion is about how much compensation for what services rendered, and public-sector unions arrive at their salaries not by finding clients willing to pay a certain amount of their own money, but by manipulating the political process in order to create incentive for politicians to pay more with other people's money.

For example, if you include benefits, it'd probably be reasonable to guess that the average private school teacher makes about half of what the average public school teacher makes. Many private school teachers are drastically underpaid (mostly, I'd suggest, because of the distorted market that the near-government-monopoly creates), but clearly public school pay is well above what an undistorted market price would be.

I've been looking at resumes and applications of carpenters, and it's common that carpenters who've worked for the union made $30 per hour with it, but are asking for $25 in the private sector and will take less (that leaves out huge disparities in benefits, too). The reason union carpenters are looking in the private sector is that the union doesn't have work, because nobody wants to pay the above-market-rate labor costs if they don't have to.

Caprio's plan is essentially to put private-sector unions on a similar plan to public-sector unions, because any projects funded with this money that he's going to pluck from a tree will require union labor (or comparable pay and benefits for non-union employees).

I don't want everything for nothing. I just don't think taxpayers should have to pay excessively for projects because of the political heft of unions. And I definitely don't think basic government functions like infrastructure should be additional expenses.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 23, 2010 5:54 PM

Trick of mine? A trick is something dishonest. A charade if you will, a means of fooling somebody into seeing what isn't there. I'll leave the trick playing to people who need to play tricks to get by. I don't and never have.

By working ridiculous hours I was able to send my daughter to Rocky Hill School. No trick there. Somehow that place at the time cost twelve thousand a year, when the Warwick schools cost the taxpayer a little over 10,000. They paid their teachers half what the public school teachers did. The ones at Rocky hill were either retired public school teachers, or teachers waiting to get hired by a public school system.

Now that's a pretty good trick.

This trend of attacking public sector unions, long after years of concessions has gone on too long. I've played along, been reasonable and supported the reduction in benefits, additional co-pays, no contracts, forced overtime, dilapitated rescue vehicles, understaffed rescues and antiquated equipment. I've listened to the doomsday reports about the pension funds, which would have been funded had the cities and towns, and state not raided the funds and defered payment for decades.

I'm done.

Posted by: michael at September 23, 2010 7:14 PM

I hope you're done, Michael, because your blindness to the rapacity and corruption of union bosses is getting really tiresome.

Posted by: BobN at September 23, 2010 7:28 PM

And yet, Michael, you continue not to address the point that your pay is determined by the political pressure that your union is able to bring to bear. That the union leaders squander that pressure by (for one) allowing pensions to go underfunded should suggest to you that their goals are not as closely aligned with your own as they should be.

Posted by: Justin Katz at September 23, 2010 7:32 PM

If all state subsidies to my town were eliminated, my property taxes would go up about 6%. If the town could repudiate the unfunded mandates and intrusive makework reporting, we might break even or better.

Posted by chuckR at September 23, 2010 1:49 PM
You obviously live in a small town, the increases will be devestating for those of us in cities.
More importantly, Lil' Frankie's crew is promising not to touch the unfunded mandates while simultaneously cutting state aid.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at September 23, 2010 7:51 PM

My pay is determined through negotiations which include comparative pay scales from similar trades, including carpenters, nurses, electritians, plumbers and middle management.

BobN, where may I ask in your delusional world do rapacity and corruption not exist in the upper levels of management. Even the church is not immune.

Posted by: michael at September 23, 2010 8:34 PM

Hello would you mind stating which blog platform you're working with? I'm planning to start my own blog in the near future but I'm having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I'm looking for something unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

Posted by: Ursula Darga at October 26, 2011 1:27 AM

Hey, you used to write fantastic, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… I miss your great writings. Past several posts are just a bit out of track! come on!"To be content with what one has is the greatest and truest of riches." by Cicero. Thank you, very much.

Posted by: Miki Zieber at October 26, 2011 1:30 AM

I'd also like to mention that most people who find themselves without the need of health insurance can be students, self-employed and those that are unemployed. More than half of those uninsured are really under the age of Thirty five. They do not really feel they are needing health insurance as they are young and healthy. Their own income is normally spent on houses, food, as well as entertainment. Most people that do go to work either complete or not professional are not given insurance by means of their jobs so they move without due to rising price of health insurance in the us. Thanks for the ideas you share through this web site.

Posted by: Kim Kutchin at May 18, 2012 4:03 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.