October 29, 2010

Some Final Gubernatorial Campaign Wonkery

Carroll Andrew Morse

In recent debates, Republican Gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille has drawn criticism from other gubernatorial candidates for his answer on how he would decide where to cut the state budget, i.e. by asking for 5%, 10% and 15% reduction options from each department. But what Robitaille is describing is a straightforward and reasonable method for dealing with the unglamorous side of executive governance.

If you go to this page describing the staffing of the State of Rhode Island's Budget Office, you will see a bunch of positions described in this form...

Roger Williams (401-222-xxxx)
Budget Analyst I
Department Of Attorney General
Department Of Environmental Management
Department Of Public Safety
Department Of Children, Youth, And Families
Rhode Island Council On The Arts
Each budget analyst is responsible for working directly with the relevant state department heads to develop a budget recommendation for the list of departments under his or her name.

What Robitaille is saying he will do is instruct the analysts (via the State's Budget Director, who reports directly to the Governor) to develop a set of options involving 5%, 10%, and 15% cuts, for the departments they are responsible for. Then, after options for each department have been created, the Governor, the Budget Director and the analysts will sit down to choose from and adjust the options, to develop the total budget for the state.

Independent Gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee, for one, does not regard the 5/10/15 plan as a substantive one, I suspect, because he is likely to utilize a different budgeting process -- just give the unions and his other political allies whatever they want.

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Yes, I understand that it is straightforward and reasonable, but isn't it also lazy? Some departments might be able to cut as much as 50% or more, while other departments would suffer if their budget wasn't even increased. It irritates me in my own company when that sort of thing comes down and you see some depts living high off the hog being able to cut 15% pretty easily, while others are underfunded already.

Posted by: Patrick at October 29, 2010 2:02 PM

I wonder if Robatille can win the office and be half the failure that his boss was?

Posted by: Swazool at October 29, 2010 2:20 PM


Other than imposing annual statewide tax increases, what exactly would a progressive governor have done to be a "success" from your perspective?

Posted by: Andrew at October 29, 2010 6:18 PM

Other than imposing annual statewide tax increases, what exactly would a progressive governor have done to be a "success" from your perspective?
Posted by Andrew at October 29, 2010 6:18 PM

Ain't that enough for the Yes We Can drooling robots?
Hey, in "progressive" (sure sounds nicer than Communist don't it?) Chicago, home of the First Robot, the sales tax is a lovely, if uneven, 10.5%.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at October 29, 2010 6:49 PM

Here's a better approach:

1. Start by forming 2 teams -- one of government insiders, and one of outsiders.

2. Have them each define the functions you want government to perform, and 3 performance metrics and goals for each.
3. Define maximum amount you want to pay for government -- e.g., need to keep competitive with Mass.
4. Throw out all rules, organization, etc. and define new ways to achieve goals within revenue constraint that are more effective, efficient, and adaptable than current system -- e.g., new organization, staff skills, processes, technology, etc.
5. Open to public for critical review. Collect all obstacles that people identify to implementation.
6. Identify what it would take to overcome each obstacle.
7. Present again to public. Choose solution to implement.
8. Get lots of media attention.
9. Collect contributions from 501c3s and other groups to support media campaign to accompany implementation of plan.
10. Issue executive orders and introduce legislative package needed to implement chosen approach.

Posted by: John at October 29, 2010 7:49 PM

Robatille 5/10/15 plan sounds like Carcieri's "big audit' and they both ran on the whole " I am not a career politician" saying.
Did the state do better under the Don? I would love to hear your arguements on how it did.

Posted by: Swazool at October 29, 2010 8:37 PM

Swazy of course the state is much better off after 8 yrs of Gov. Carcieri. Holding the line on broad based taxes, the driving force behind very real and legitimate education reform in our public schools including the growth of charter schools, cutting the state workforce by 2000, breaking up the monoloply BC/BS held in this state thus driving down costs, breaking up the good old boy network playpen that was workers comp insurer Beacon Mutual, union concessions after reducing the workforce, E-verify, appointing top notch people like Brendan Doherty, James Rosati, Michael Lewis, tremendous leadership during the Station fire tragedy etc etc. Don Carcieri has been a very good Governor and when an absolutely embarrassing dunce like Linc Chafee gets elected Don Carcieri will stand even taller in the eyes of history. In fact Chafee's victory this year will help Carcieri defeat Whitehouse in a couple of years.
Just ask yourself one question Swazy. What would our budget deficit look like now had Myrth York been elected 8 years ago?? Scary to even contemplate the shape we'd be in.

Posted by: Tim at October 30, 2010 7:45 AM

Tim, that was an excellent post. At the Follies last night, the entire audience gave the Governor enthusiastic applause. Most Rhode Islanders know and appreciate the fine work he has done under the most hostile conditions a Governor has faced anywhere in the country.

Posted by: BobN at October 30, 2010 9:17 AM

From Rasmussen Report
"As for Carcieri who is term-limited and cannot seek reelection, 44% approve of the job he is doing as governor, but 55% disapprove.
Fifty-six percent (56%) of Rhode Island voters approve of the job President Obama is doing. Forty-three percent (43%) disapprove."

This would mean that The Don's approval rating is actually LOWER than the president. 12 Points LOWER! This poll was from Friday October 22,

"In fact Chafee's victory this year will help Carcieri defeat Whitehouse in a couple of years."
Carcieri, run for another office. LOL.
The economy will get better. Doesn't matter who is in office, they will be given credit. People will remember Don as the failure he was.


Posted by: Swazool at October 30, 2010 10:03 AM

BobN right you are. The Gov also got a very warm reception at the Bristol 4th of July parade. People in this state like Don Carcieri. And I ask you, does he have a Senatorial look about him or what?

Swaz thanks for the polling data. That only CONFIRMS my view on just how strong Don Carcieri is in this Democrat laden state. A 2 term "conservative" Republican Gov in a deep blue state that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country is STILL pulling 44% approval??
You may be laughing at the notion of Carcieri running for office again but I guarantee you Sheldon Whitehouse and the Democratic party ain't laughing.

Posted by: Tim at October 30, 2010 6:42 PM

It would be great if the don ran, but I don't think he will. He has spent most of this last term in Florida, (remember how he left ri to go there just a few days after the flood). He is basically retiring

Posted by: Swazool at October 31, 2010 11:27 AM
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