October 13, 2006

Spending Priorities in Rhode Island

Carroll Andrew Morse

An unsigned editorial in today's Projo (drawing on a Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council study) repeats the kinds of numbers Rhode Islanders are all too familiar with...

  • "Rhode Island spends significantly more per person on government than the national average ($7,077 vs. $6,493, in 2004, the most recent numbers available)".
  • "Should Rhode Island be content with poorly performing public schools when it is one of America's leaders (eighth per capita) in spending on elementary and secondary education?"
  • "Should the Ocean State...be satisfied to rank a lowly 42nd in per-capita spending on parks and recreation?"
  • "According to 2004 statistics, the Ocean State spent $150 per capita in cash assistance for welfare recipients -- third highest in America -- compared with the $71 national average. Meanwhile, it ranked fourth in Medicaid vendor spending."
  • "Similarly, Rhode Island spent more on fire protection -- $206 per capita -- than any other state. The national average was less than half that, $97.
  • "Rhode Island ranked 46th in per-capita highway spending. (To some extent that may reflect the state's 50th rank in size.)"
  • "The state also ranked 46th in per-capita spending on public higher education."

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.

It saddens me to see compiled that which we all have suspected for so long. My two children both live in other states. I will soon follow. It is obvious that the General Assembly will not change enough to make a difference in my lifetime.

Posted by: Ben at October 13, 2006 6:04 PM

Sensible people have two options, move out (like Ben) or fight. I'll add that those who accept this situation, or try to rationalize it, are not sesnible . While I choose to continue to fight, I begin to wonder if there really are two sensible positions? Perhaps Ben is the more sensible. I think we are doomed unless voters begin to demand leadership. I believe the "situation" will have to get even worse before people are ready for change. The paradox: I find myself wishing for conditions to get so bad that the ensuing revolution is formidable. Bring it on! What have we got to lose?

Posted by: george at October 13, 2006 7:34 PM

Try Kansas Ben, I spent some time there,
town workers make $5.15 an hour.The newspaper food criticts do reviews on Burger King, school teachers all live in
trailer parks,it is the home of the
godhatesfags.com Baptist Church. You will think you died and went to "Right Wing Heaven"
p.s. save a spot for George

Posted by: JAY at October 13, 2006 11:30 PM

Jay -

So let me get this straight, your position is that high taxes - made "necessary" by patronage, corruption and coddling welfare benefits - provides the springboard for a an upscale quality of life with good restaurants, etc.?

Time for you to ask for a refund for whatever you paid for your mail-order degree in economics from Karl Marx University.

As for $5.15 / hour town workers, from what I've seen in RI, given the "work" they perform they'd still be overpaid at $5.15!

Posted by: Tom W at October 14, 2006 11:05 AM

Has anybody here ever read "What's the Matter with Kansas?"
Restaurants would be the least of my problems out there.

Posted by: Rhody at October 14, 2006 12:57 PM

Tom W
I was just trying to help Ben,since I had spent time in Kansas,I also lived in San Francisco,but I would not recomend moving there.Because of the low
wages,and low property values in San Fran.Also Kansas has live Profesional Wrestling everyday.
Tom, rather than insult me,why dont you help Ben,by sugesting places he can relocate to?

Posted by: Jay at October 14, 2006 2:15 PM

Jay -

Low property values means that one can purchase equivalent housing on lower wages.

So, unlike RI, perhaps Kansas doesn't have an "affordable housing crisis" and doesn't need ballot initiatives to float more taxpayer financed bonds to build more "affordable housing."

Here in RI we don't seem to get the dynamic that all government "solutions" do is beget more "crises" that (to liberals) require even more government "solutions."

As for places to move to, a good guide would probably be the alumni mailing lists of URI, Bryant, et. als. For decades now the "economic policy" of our illustrious General Assembly has been to import welfare recipients and export college graduates (by making our business climate one of the worst in the nation, necessitating that college graduates move in order to find a "good job").

With that list we can see what the popular destinations are, and even call them up and see how they like living in states that aren't (like RI) Democrat nirvana, i.e., low taxes, low levels of corruption and vibrant economies that offer the prospect of achieving the American Dream.

Posted by: Tom W at October 14, 2006 4:07 PM


The Rhode Island of today is not the Rhode Island of our youth. Aside from the great restaurants found here with everything else (infrastructure, schools, municipal facilities, beaches) you can and will find much better quality elsewhere and for far fewer of your tax dollars.
20 years ago Rhode Island was a quirky and special place to live with its' own unique charms. Not anymore! It's changed and it'll never be that quirky charming place it once was. When you move away Ben you won't miss it anywhere near as much as you think you will. Actually the first thing you'll notice when you come back to visit especially after being away for a long time is how rundown and dirty this state is.


Isn't Karl Marx University another name for URI?
They employ Scott Molloy. 'nuff said!
Isn't Josef Stalin College another name for RIC.
They employ the Queen of Poverty Kate Brewster.
Ugh! Talk about getting schooled.

PS: Jay's Economics professor is Bobby Oliveira. lol

Posted by: Tim at October 14, 2006 4:46 PM

Thank You for the info:
I did not know I was a Marxist.Please do not tell any of my tenants.They wont pay the rent........

Ben..Kansas has Pro Wrestling every day
Ladies wrestling and midget wrestling, and Roller Derby every Sat/Sunday.
The kansas state museum has a photo of Bob Dole kissing Spiro Agnew(what could be better than that)it was the day before Agnnew's No-Lo(guilty)Plea

Posted by: jay at October 14, 2006 10:37 PM

I've never seen someone read so much into so little. You need to get some medical attention...RIte Care is always available.

Posted by: Ben at October 14, 2006 11:14 PM

Whether in the private, public or not-for-profit sector, organizations sometimes get into trouble. While the reasons for their problems are many, the resolution always takes one of two paths. Some organizations have the courage and insight and willpower to change their behavior on their own. Others only do it after a very painful external shock has been experienced -- whether bankruptcy, indictments, or fiscal collapse.

After years of observing the glacial pace of change in Rhode Island, I don't think we're going to end up following the first path. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), more and more people have figured this out, and are leaving RI (and thereby accelerating the onset of the crisis).

And guaranteed, like so many of his peers, Jay either doesn't see what is happening, or, if he does, has no practical ideas for how to reverse the path Rhode Island is on. Sad.

Posted by: John at October 15, 2006 8:17 AM

Dear John,

There's only one problem with your point: it's not supported by the facts.

During the period of April 2000 to July of 2005, RI's population increased by 2.7%. The population of the country increased by 5.3%.

This is a much signifcant change then the period from 1990 - 2000 where RI's population increased by 4.5% while the nation's increased by 13.1%.

For those looking to use the minority card on this issue, we are less African American and less Latino, by percentage, than the rest of the country. Our median income is higher than the national average and we have less folks living in poverty, 11.3%, than the national average, 12.5%.

I know, like most around here, it was a really good post until the facts screwed it up. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at October 15, 2006 2:21 PM

Poor Tom and Tim,
So filled with hate,
Now can marry,
in the Bay State.

And still live here,
And keep on posting,
But on November 7th,
Will they still be boasting?

Posted by: Jake at October 15, 2006 2:38 PM


I said nothing about the change in the overall state population. I realize it is growing, though as you note, more slowly than the national average (though less far below that average than in the past).

I just said that people who can see what is happening here, and where it seems to be leading, are leaving the state. Granted, others are coming -- that's how we've ended up with the lowest average Latino income in the nation, right here in the Ocean State. But they aren't going to be much help closing next years 350 million budget deficit, or the even bigger ones after that.

By the way, Bobby, what are you advising Charlie when it comes to closing those deficits?

Posted by: john at October 15, 2006 3:34 PM

Dear John,

This whole "smart people are leaving" theme we've heard lately is way overplayed. Otherwise, I would have bought a house already. In a "soft" market, many of the properties I'm looking at start with 6's and 7's. I'm doing well, but God almighty. Dad bought for what, 28 or so??

What I am advising, neither guy is listening to. The casino would help, true welfare reform would help, a lowering of the sales tax on a glide path would help. Ending the capital gains tax would help. On a personal note, making me tax exempt as virtue of my 1099 status would be wonderful.

However, the Governor has boxed himself in so nobody wants to lend him a hand. This is his own fault.

The Lieutenant Governor has decided to attack other problems first.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the "borrow and spend" GOP keeps rolling along.

Too much emphasis on the property tax, not enough distribution across investment zones, fear of revenue streams will not lead to success anytime soon.

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at October 15, 2006 4:15 PM

"In a "soft" market, many of the properties I'm looking at start with 6's and 7's."

Maybe you should stop looking at waterfront McMansions in Newport and start looking at the houses 2 blocks from the water that are priced in the 2-300k range? Or would living within your means make too much sense to a socialist like yourself?

Posted by: Greg at October 15, 2006 5:10 PM

Dear Greg,

The properties I'm looking at are a few block from the water.

The McMansions all start have the dreaded "point something" in the price.

By the way, since I'm a salesman, how can I be a Socialist at the same time?

Posted by: Bobby Oliveira at October 15, 2006 6:09 PM