June 6, 2012

Interesting Times in Rhode Island (and Wisconsin), June 6

Carroll Andrew Morse

1. The major national story is that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won his recall election, 53%-46% despite substantial efforts to unseat him from organized labor groups who oppose the budget and collective bargaining reforms he has spearheaded. The real message here is that there are still many Americans who don't like to be told that there is a deep government, superior in certain areas to the governments they elect, that mere elected officials shouldn't interfere with. This is a healthy attitude that should be cultivated.

2. And speaking of deep government, the East Bay Energy Consortium legislation that I wrote about yesterday was replaced in the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee with a "study commission" bill which was then held for further study (Justin has coverage of this meeting at the Ocean State Current). According to a GoLocalProv article by Stephen Beale, Governor Lincoln Chafee is on record as opposing major enhancements of the EBEC’s powers in this legislative session, which makes last minute passage of the bill, ala what happened with 38 Studios, unlikely.

3. West Warwick appears to be in worse shape than Woonsocket, according to a Brian Crandall report from WJAR-TV (NBC 10)...

Meanwhile, the West Warwick teachers union president confirmed to NBC 10 that they have been notified by the school administration that the school department won't be able to make payroll for the full year, that it will be two paychecks (4 weeks pay) short.
From a fiscal perspective, one way out of this, following the example of Woonsocket, would be to put a budget commission in charge in West Warwick which could request an acceleration of state-aid to address the shortfall. Are there any others? It seems too late for a supplemental tax increase, given that a supplemental would have to be approved by the General Assembly. A budget commission, by the way, would also have the authority to reverse a decision made by the West Warwick school committee, which opposes school sports programs and voted to eliminate them.

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The rhetoric I'm reading from Wisconsin is that Gov. Walker spent $50 million to his opponents $ 4 million. I'm kind of glad to be old enough to realize that it's all BS, yet sad at the same time to have lost interest because of it.

Posted by: michael at June 6, 2012 12:28 PM

Dept. of Revenue R.B. Gallogly told me last week that West Warwick is on the short list.

Can't wait to find out what community unexpectedly makes that list next month!

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 6, 2012 12:29 PM

Perhaps people are finally beginning to understand that there is absolutley no intellectual argument to be made for public-employee unions.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at June 6, 2012 12:52 PM

There is an intellectual argument to be made for voluntary public unions. There is even an intellectual argument to be made for involuntary public unions, such as exist in Rhode Island, although it would be a fairly evil intellectual making that case (I'm sure some of the NEA folks would be happy to do so).

The good news for everyone is that public unions don't need to be eliminated. Simply make them voluntary and they immediately lose half their membership because a lot of people don't want to be in them or think the dues are too high (who knew?).

Posted by: Dan at June 6, 2012 1:11 PM

Federal public employee unions are voluntary(not sure about Postal)and can't bargain for pay/benefits.

Posted by: joe bernstein at June 6, 2012 1:49 PM


I've seen some hugely varying estimates of spending, but yours are by far the most extreme. The Democrat candidate spent $4 million himself, so you're not even close to apples to apples.

It looks like the ratio was more like $45 million (Walker & allies) versus $19 million (opposition). Of course, that doesn't count the value of massive union in-kind volunteerism or, for that matter, the tens of millions spent on the recall effort all along.

You can't blame this on money, Michael.

Posted by: Justin Katz at June 6, 2012 4:55 PM

"From a fiscal perspective, one way out of this, following the example of Woonsocket, would be to put a budget commission in charge in West Warwick which could request an acceleration of state-aid to address the shortfall."

As I understand, Woonsocket's fiscal problems are not primarily unfunded pensions. Further, John Ward and others have something of a vision/path (admittedly involving in part the state moving up implementation of the new school aid formula) to get the city clear of its longer term travails if it can get past its current cash crunch.

So I could see where an acceleration of state-aid helps Woonsocket.

How does it help West Warwick?

Or is the goal to survive just long enough for the Receiver to arrive and start hacking?

Posted by: Monique at June 6, 2012 10:46 PM

Michael - the Unions have been spending massive amounts of cash, coupled with providing in-kind services for ever. When it was working for you, we never heard complaints about the money.

Finally, when the silent majority wakes up and buys into rational ideas and arguments, you Union folk blame your decisive loss on Money. You are pathetic.

Face it, you and yours lost the battle of rationale ideas. Even 30+ percent of Union-hacks voted for Walker. Was it the money that made them do it? Give us break.

Monique - what is Woonsocket's vision beyond tax increases and accelerated state aid? Is it the same vision that they failed to execute when they saddled their taxpayers with a 7.125% Deficit Reduction Bond that issued with the promise / vision of reforms?

Pensions are just the poster-child for the ills that plague the cities and towns. The issue is beyond just Pensions. It is all about the unsustainable and unaffordable promises and cost structure that cities and towns have created due to entitlement-minded Union demands and chicken-crap, ignorant elected officials who didn't know how to say "no".

More taxes and the acceleration of aid will not solve the problem. Central Falls is the template. Ms. Gallogly is wasting precious time and money.

Posted by: Leo at June 9, 2012 1:09 PM
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