April 4, 2011

Chafee Tells Critics to "Show me the cuts"

Marc Comtois

WRNI's Ian Donnis has this from Governor Chafee:

I haven’t heard from anybody how to get out of the $295 million hole. There’s just been critic after critic without offering any constructive alternative — and I’m still waiting. I’m open-minded to anybody who has a better idea.
Now that's someone in a bubble. Or someone playing word games. Define "constructive" alternative. How about "better" idea? Enough wiggle room for you? The ideas that the governor doesn't WANT to hear have been out there: across the board cuts, salary freezes (no COLA, no raises), renegotiate Health care co-share, reform pensions, etc. See, the problem is that the aforementioned require HARD decisions or HARD work. Nothing is EASIER than raising taxes.

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.

The governor is really sending mixed messages. A couple of weeks ago, he said that three years of cuts by the Carcieri admin and the G.A. were enough and no more cutting was necessary.

Now he's asking for suggestions???

Well, Governor, Marc got you started:

across the board cuts, salary freezes (no COLA, no raises), renegotiate Health care co-share, reform pensions

One more - a biggie: lifting of state mandates to cities and towns. See, if you implemented those, maybe you wouldn't have to send so much aid to cities and towns, thereby reducing both local and STATE spending burdens simultaneously.

Posted by: Monique at April 4, 2011 4:12 PM

The only thing easier than raising taxes is using state employees as a scapegoat. Over and over, you shout "NO COLA! PAY FREEZES! PENSION REFORM!" That's just taking aim at a politically expedient target.

You and the rest of Anchor Rising just won't be happy until there's no government services left to cut. Your rhetoric is just as tired as the progressives.

Posted by: Sick and tired at April 4, 2011 6:04 PM

You and the rest of Anchor Rising just won't be happy until there's no government services left to cut. Your rhetoric is just as tired as the progressives.
Posted by Sick and tired at April 4, 2011 6:04 PM

Hey A hole-
it's really simple-if you have a cavity you get it filled. That's how easy it would be to solve the problems. The progressives, the cronies, the illegal aliens, anchor babies and welfare maggots don't WANT the cavity filled and as long as we the electorate are stupid enough to keep re electing the Bolshevik party in power since 1934 we deserve exactly what we get.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at April 4, 2011 6:57 PM

"Your rhetoric is just as tired as the progressives."

Sounds like someone who is happy with status quo.

Welcome to the blog, Gov. Chafee

Posted by: Patrick at April 4, 2011 7:42 PM

"You and the rest of Anchor Rising just won't be happy until there's no government services left to cut."

On the contrary, I think we'd all be thrilled if government spending were reduced by 10-20%. Even 5% would be pretty spectacular. Guys?

Posted by: Dan at April 4, 2011 8:07 PM

Do you folks pay attention to current events or just throw out the same old tired Ed Achorns?

100 pensions over $100,000 to political insiders, huge raises going to the connected, hundred thousand dollar salaries to "aids," Medicare out of control, and on and on and who do you pick on?

Posted by: michael at April 4, 2011 8:22 PM

Michael - Do you really think the people on here are okay with any of that stuff? Do you even read this blog, or do you just filter the union stories? It's all part of the problem. ALL of it.

Posted by: Dan at April 4, 2011 9:49 PM

Lol, there is a post by Justin right below this one about $100,000+ pensions and insider abuses. We have a problem with that and always have. Nobody here is supporting it or turning a blind eye to it. Give some credit where credit is due.

Posted by: Dan at April 4, 2011 9:51 PM

The state budget has, like, tripled, over the last ten years while the population has held steady. How is that kind of growth justified???

A factor of that expansion has been that gov't jobs, state and local, are very, very well paid, indeed. Ask anyone cruising the help-wanted ads looking for a job; the first place you look is state and local "Job Posting" pages. Why? Normally, a job applicant has to choose between really good wages, really good benefits and job security. With a gov't job, you get all three!!

Hey, Sick & Tired: imagine how sick and tired we are of paying the high taxes in this state! You don't like being criticized for having a really good job by the people who PAY YOUR WAGES AND BENNIES? Get a job in the private sector. Problem solved.

Dan, you got it right the first time: minimum 20% reduction in gov't spending. Sick & Tired has pushed me over the edge: put all of these positions out on the Job Postings page. We'll cut payroll and bennies by a third, easy. Then Sick & Tired can stop being sick and tired and just be unemployed.

Posted by: Monique at April 4, 2011 9:58 PM

Michael and the guy who parachuted in (Sick and tired):

Do you pay attention to current events, or just throw out the same union talking points? Cheap shot? Yes, but you reap what you sow.

Regardless, with all due respect, you're reading only what you want or expect to read. Take a deep breath, and re-read. First CUTS aren't just personnel, they are also to programs and low priority items. Additionally, I thought it obvious that, wrt personnel, the CUTS and PAY FREEZES also apply to the same insiders you're railing against, Michael.

I know we're talking about your livelihood. I get it, I really do. Honest. I don't want to see anyone out of a job. But WE CAN'T AFFORD doing business as it has been done in the past. Reductions have to be made. It wouldn't have to be job cuts, either. Unions could negotiate to reduce across the board to save jobs...instead of taking a hard line and saving the pay and benny's of the senior guys at the expense of low seniority jobs. We don't see that very often, though.

It's also not like we're asking public employees to endure something that the rest of the country hasn't. None of it is fair. But what is "fair" is certainly in the eye of the beholder, I suppose.

Private sector workers aren't getting COLAs. While all of the health care market is going up, the private sector workers are subsidizing most of that increase directly from their pay while also paying for most of the increases for the public sector.

Anyway, enough. Your perspective is well established and I know I won't change it. Just know that I don't wish ill on anyone, I just wish public employee unions would be more realistic and not always appear to go with the "I got mine" approach, which is what, to a lot of the public, seems to be the norm.

Posted by: Marc at April 4, 2011 10:02 PM

Strange Carcieri didn't fix all those things in his two terms (tax cuts for the wealthy are HARD!). But Chafee gets a few months, eh? Sounds to me like you folks have a double standard.

Posted by: Russ at April 5, 2011 9:04 AM

I really couldn't resist using the "throwing Ed Achorns" line.

What I objected to was in the comments, "across the board cuts..." when the evidence is mounting that the financial crisis is fueled by those at the top of state government. Judges getting full pensions without ever contributing, legislators getting double digit raises and things like that. Most state and municipal workers are firmly entrenched in the middle class, and will always be, and are okay with that.

The perception that public employee unions have an "I got mine" view is simply untrue, and propagated by people like Ed Achorn, who actually knows better. We give thousands in concessions, the Eds want thousands more.

Get rid of the deadwood, and let the middle class workers do their thing, and we'd be on our way to righting this ship.

Posted by: michael at April 5, 2011 10:20 AM

Russ-c'mon!!Carcieri had a GA controlled by unions,poverty pimps,and other special interests and he had virtually no chance to affect things except for the Executive Order that brought some common sense to the immigration issue.
Chafee of course scrapped that in deference to the ethnic hacks like Pichardo and Diaz.
I don't have any intention of giving Chafee a "chance".of course,there's not much I can do,but whatever.
Amazing Russ,how you admire the wealthy trust fund eloi who think they rule by divine right of bluebloods.You,the proletarians' man himself.Wake up.
The Chafees and Whitehouses will never hurt"their"kind of people-they don't sh*t where they eat.
Haven't you figured that out,pal?
They step on people who have the narrowest of economic survival margins to cater to parasites.
I don't know how you grew up,but we were always a check away from real trouble when I was young.I don't want 11 vehicles or 21 properties or $47 million in net worth.
I'm just not giving up what I've worked for to those who wouldn't work if their lives depended on it.
Kate Brewster and her ilk be damned.

Posted by: jope bernstein at April 5, 2011 11:44 AM

"Russ-c'mon!!Carcieri had a GA controlled by unions..."

Umm, isn't Chafee expected to work with the same GA? Sounds like confirmation of the double standard to me.

As for the rest, I have no great love the "trust fund eloi," but Diaz is my rep. and we like her just fine here on the south side.

Posted by: Russ at April 5, 2011 1:23 PM

Hmm. Cuts.

1. I would get the operating budget of -every single non-profit- that gets more than 25% funding from the state, then see how many people they help, and maybe sample some outcomes with phone calls and interviews. Find out who's running a supportive housing program for $30K a year per-bed and who's doing the same thing for $120K.

And yes, there are programs here that end up costing $120K per-person/year just to put a roof over a poor person's head. That's not including all the other stuff they get (food stamps, SSDI, 'cash assistance', Medicare, etc.).

So find the expensive programs, take their money away, reallocate part of it to the cheaper programs at a rate that equals the same 'number of people helped', and you save a boatload of money. Obviously, if you have the time, you want to add some weight for successful outcomes to the equation.

2. Put a moratorium on low-income housing subsidies until a proper spending formula can be worked-out and a boilerplate contract for timeliness, cost, and quality are written. There's no reason that I can build an entire two-family 'green' house cheaper than the state can build a two room apartment in an apartment building.

3. Since we already have the state's noose around local teacher health care selections, may as well take advantage of it and push the purchasing and administration of those plans up to the state level. Just charge municipalities for the service they'd be required to buy themselves anyway. There might be some 'economics of scale' realized and reduction in municipal overhead. At least this lets us mix a little lemonade in with the lemon juice.

4. Bring in experienced consultants from out-of-state to do a quick audit the processes of the DOT and RIPTA. Find out why they cost so much, and force-through the consultant's top three suggested changes.

5. Start consolidating and merging the state and city information technology services.

Posted by: mangeek at April 5, 2011 1:25 PM

Russ-Ray Hull is my rep and also a friend of over 20 years-we don't always find ourselves on the same page(so what?)but he is a welcome presence in our district.
The last guy hid out for 26 years.

Posted by: joe bernstein at April 5, 2011 4:25 PM

I wasn't going to wade into this, but I couldn't resist.

Tommy Cranston: Thanks for keepin' it classy by calling me an asshole.

Patrick: "Welcome to the blog, Gov. Chafee" That was a great line, very funny. Well done, sir.

Monique: I'm actually not a government employee. I work in the private sector, but have a lot of contact with a particular state department. My salary is far better than my state worker counterparts (with similar education and experience), and since they started paying a health insurance co-pay a few years ago, our health care plans are very comparable. So, honestly, I don't see that the state employees have "really good wages" or "really good benefits" because the wages are less and health insurance is comparable to most in my industry. With the recent changes to their pension plans, they'll be lucky to get out the same amount of money they pay in (when adjusting for inflation). While there is greater security, these jobs aren't the cushy gold mines that some people here and elsewhere seem to think.

Marc: Reductions have been made. Unions did agree to a salary cut (in the form of unpaid work days) over the last 16 months to prevent layoffs. A 20% health care co-share in 2009. I don't even remember all the pension changes. I don't get a COLA, but I'm not in a union with a collectively bargained contract that allows for them. What I do get is a yearly review where the raise for all employees in my office is between 1% and 3%. Plus we get bonuses (in varying, not insignificant amounts) that my state counterparts don't get. I, unfortunately, don't get a pension, but my 401k has taken a beating in the last 4 years, so I understand why state employees fight so hard to keep their pension benefits.

In general, I just don't think it's fair to attack the current state employees, and hold them accountable for all the sins of the past. As we see with the recent news about those getting $100k pensions, the main reason for the pension mess is that the favored few paid little to nothing for their mega-pensions and the state missed at least one payment to the pension fund while making overly generous assumptions in their funding calculations and rumors of mismanagement in the pension fund. It isn't the the secretary with 20 years of service making $35k/year and a second job that is the problem, it starts from the top down.

The over-simplified, recurring calls for "across the board cuts, salary freezes (no COLA, no raises), renegotiate Health care co-share, reform pensions" set me off. It isn't current employees that caused this mess, and they shouldn't be constantly targeted as the way to fix the fiscal problems and balance the budget. I didn't mean any disrespect, and I'm sorry if I incited any ill will. I just think that we're all a lot more similar than we are different, and to constantly attack one group or another isn't the solution. I wish we all fought a little harder for peace and unity, and the problems we face wouldn't seem so catastrophic.

Posted by: Sick and Tired at April 5, 2011 10:45 PM

S&T: Kumbayah....

So, now that you've told us what cuts you don't want, how would you solve the state's budget problem?

Posted by: BobN at April 6, 2011 7:07 AM

Sick and Tired

Thank you for splashing the cold water of reality into the faces of these coffee klatch conservatives.

Posted by: Phil at April 6, 2011 7:15 AM

Thanks, Sick and Tired, I hope you stick around.

Posted by: michael at April 6, 2011 8:34 AM

Sick and Tired, thanks for the follow-up. But while you remembered the unpaid work days, you didn't mention the combined 6% in raises that were "given back" in the last six months. As for the 20% co-pay, that is just bringing them closer to public reality. And about the salary comparison, well, if it's so bad, then why don't they work in the private sector like you? Seems like they'd be able to make a relatively easy transition. Could it be that, for some reason (I don't know, benefits maybe?) they'd rather take a little less now?

Based on your description, I'm guessing your company is quite a bit larger and, perhaps, in a market that hasn't suffered as much from the recession.You have to understand, my perspective is as an employee of a small-business. Our 401k situation is similar (though my company doesn't match). My health care co-pay is more like 50% and, while I too get annual reviews, there has been a wage freeze for a couple years now (no 1%-3% raises, in other words). We've had layoffs and cutbacks. It hasn't been fun. So you'll have to excuse the lack of empathy when I see government employees complaining about deferred raises, or "only" COLA or 20% co-pays (when they've skated on those for years).

It's not because I'm jealous. It's because I see my tax dollars continue to go towards compensating people better than I to perform a multitude of services that I don't require, are done poorly (DMV) or are insider gimme's (the general assembly family jobs program).

Posted by: Marc at April 6, 2011 8:36 AM

"Lol, there is a post by Justin right below this one about $100,000+ pensions and insider abuses. We have a problem with that and always have. Nobody here is supporting it or turning a blind eye to it. Give some credit where credit is due."

You are only remembered for your last act, Dan.

Posted by: michael at April 6, 2011 8:48 AM

Governor Chafee is right, where and how else can you close the budget deficit? No more cutting of programs is correct. There are too many people out here in RI who rely on state or government aid in one form or another, whether it be a job with all the fringe benefits, disability, medical insurance, and workers compensation, etc. It's not fair for you conservatives to throw rocks, esp. when you still choose to live in glass homes. A generation ago, I don't recall the taxpayers complaining, and things were much more worst back then, than what they are now.

Posted by: perfect lady at April 7, 2011 9:25 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

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