The Boston Fed cites Lawrence, MA, as an example of success for the program that it would like to bring to Rhode Island. That struggling city is actually a great case study in why Rhode Islanders should resist the Fed and any other top-down program to save the state.
PolitiFactRI is so obviously biased and has made so many blatantly wrong ratings that flew in the face of plain truth that, for me, it has achieved the status of a pathological liar. So I wonder sometimes whether it is even worth calling them out. You don’t bother to call out a pathological liar, you simply ignore everything he says because he has no credibility.
But then I remember that they have as a platform the state’s largest newspaper, the Providence Journal, which inexplicably continues to damage its own reputation for accuracy, perpetuate serious misinformation, promote bad government policies and squander valuable journalistic resources by hosting a mini-Pravda.
With that reminder, then, let’s take a look at today’s rating and the bias therein.
The idea that driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants should require legislative action is entirely a matter of politics, meaning that advocates cannot wait in order to protect it.
The numbers behind the Brown University sexual assault survey would undermine much of the spin of activists if it were reported honestly and considered maturely.
As you know, Rhode Island was recently classified as one of only two sanctuary states in the country, a disturbing revelation and a costly situation. The figure of just how costly it is to state and local taxpayers popped up yesterday in the course of some related research. F.A.I.R., the Federation for American Immigration Reform, places the cost to Rhode Island of illegal immigration at $278 million per year in 2009.
Think of that. Because state officials have so far declined to implement some very reasonable, simple measures to discourage illegal immigration into the state but have implemented policies that actually encourage it, Rhode Island is needlessly spending an estimated $278 million per year.
The blooming culture of victimhood is neither an inevitable social transition nor an obvious fad; it’s part of the culture war and must be actively resisted.
Cost overruns for the state’s Unified Health Infrastructure Project (the “dependency portal”) should bring public scrutiny to the dangerous policy that the project seeks to implement.
Projections using REMI to estimate the effects of doubling the sales tax illustrate the economic thinking that will go into the results of its review of Raimondo’s toll-and-borrow infrastructure scheme.
Worrying about minor conflicts of interest in government planning misses the point that progressivism is an ideology built around the idealization of conflicts of interest.
The appearance of Attorney Vincent Ragosta as both a “neutral arbitrator” for the state police and an important piece of the state police’s case against Cranston Mayor Allan Fung shows how Rhode Islanders cannot take any information from their state’s employees at face value.
From the wow-that-didn’t-take-long department, the Providence Journal’s Kathy Gregg, in a piece of kick-butt journalism yesterday, reports that the tolling of all vehicles is now on the table as an option. It seems that, at Speaker Mattiello’s suggestion, Governor Gina Raimondo is carrying out an “economic analysis”.
In recent months, the administration also commissioned an “economic analysis” of Raimondo’s truck-toll plan and a variety of other possible revenue-raising options that could, potentially, include: other new “user-fees,” gas taxes and a revived effort to toll all vehicles — not just big trucks — on Route 95 near the Connecticut border.
A close reading reveals the state police report about the Cranston Police Department to be a deeply biased narrative serving the interests of its authors and their colleagues.
In the run-up to the next presidential election, attitudes about race relations have taken a dive. One needn’t be but so cynical to think the perception is mostly fabricated.
The debate over whether charter schools are more like public schools or private schools points to the race between inside interests and charters’ destruction of private schools.
The scam of increasing the minimum wage harms the very people whom it is supposed to help, but helps the people who sell phony remedies for votes.
Rhode Islanders who get their news from the Providence Journal may find themselves studiously routed around obvious questions and connections in the matter of the Chattanooga shooting.
Battles over the annual budget in Woonsocket could open up another corrupting problem with the inadvisable and poorly written law granting the state the power to take dictatorial control over struggling local governments.
Commentary from some Republicans and conservatives/libertarians suggests that deeper consideration of the implications of the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage is necessary.
bond investors their interest payments construction underway as quickly as possible is of the utmost importance, Rhode Island’s political leaders will need to consider how much of a risk of a lawsuit they are willing to take in order to get the local carve-out; a case like this would take years to work it’s way through the Federal courts and the whole tolling-plan might possibly be enjoined during the litigation process. Of course, an injunction against the toll-plan would mean no money for bond payments road-repairs right away.
On this issue, Rhode Island’s legislators would be wise to keep in mind the lesson of Gordon Fox: Because Rhode Island’s Democratic leadership can play fast-and-loose with interpretations of rules and laws while inside the statehouse (e.g. nullification, revolving door judgeships) does not mean they can extend that power very far outside and forgetting about this can lead to unfortunate consequences.
The legal analysis that leads to this conclusion is in the main post.
A budget article having to do with full-day kindergarten creates the opposite incentives from what political activists are taking credit for.
What Rhode Island’s Governor and legislature decide in the next couple of weeks with regards to highway tolls depends on what their policy priorities are, by which I mean…
1. Despite the fact that a case for funding a decade or more of highway construction with a revenue bond, instead of saving money on interest and spending the savings directly on construction, has not yet been presented to the public,…
2. …a revenue bond financed through tolls seems to be an integral part of Governor Gina Raimondo’s transportation infrastructure plan.
3. Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello is concerned about the impact highway tolls would have on the local economy, which is a reasonable concern, and has signaled he’d like to see some kind of local-relief plan implemented.
4. However, Federal case law based on the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause clearly looks askance upon local carve-outs when it comes to highway tolls/user-fees/whatever you want to call them, meaning that…
5. …if a tolling plan did include a local “discount” in its structure, there is a risk it would be immediately enjoined (with the help of ground-transportation trade organizations which appear to have some pretty good lawyers).
6. And, of course, if a tolling program were enjoined right away, a bond sale probably couldn’t proceed until the case was resolved, which would probably take several years, at least.
What to watch for is this: if the priority is issuing the bond, something without anything resembling a local exemption that could bring the court-system into the process needs to be passed soon, and a special session in the later half of the fall might be too late to get bonds issued for this tax-year. If, on the other hand, the bond itself is less of a priority, the timeline is not quite so immediate, and some explanation to the public of why interest payments associated with a bond make sense is in order.
But bond or no-bond, it’s going to be difficult to construct a local preference for vehicle tolls that survives Federal court scrutiny. Based on the proposal already submitted, we know this won’t prevent the Governor from supporting tolls. Will the Speaker eventually come to share to the same attitude?
The General Assembly’s budget looks likely to impose a brand new HealthSource tax on all Rhode Islanders who buy individual or small-group health insurance in the state. Whatever the numbers can be made to show, the scene will surely darken in years to come.
2. Late-entry budget article: Tolling of mid and large size commercial vehicle on Rhode Island highways budget article. (H Finance; Tue, Jun 2)
3. S0952: Sets a 20-year schedule of property tax exemptions in the I195 redevelopment district. (S Finance; Thu, Jun 4)
4. S0384: Bans “any candidate for state or local office who has outstanding campaign finance reports or fines due the board of elections” from running for office “until all such reports are filed and/or all fines are paid”. (S Judiciary; Tue, Jun 2) Likely unconstitutional, on the grounds that qualifications for office are established at the constitutional level and cannot be altered by statute.
5. S0458: Removes a fiscal stability act budget commission’s authority over a school superintendent and over basic educational matters . (S Education; Tue, Jun 2) According to knowledgeable sources, likely related to protecting a school superintendent favored by the Mayor of Woonsocket but not in favor with the city’s budget commission.
1. Proposed retirement-income tax exemptions:
- (H Finance; Thu, May 28)
- H5000: Exempts “all income received from federal, state and local governments’ retirement plans, social security retirement and disability benefits, military pensions, railroad retirement benefits, private pension plans, and deferred-compensation plans in the public and private sector” from the RI income tax, restricted to people 65 years of age or older.
- H5055: Exempts “all income received from federal, state and local governments’ retirement plans, private pension plans, and deferred-compensation plans in the public and private sector” from the RI income tax.
- H5056: Exempts the same income sources as H5055 plus “social security retirement and disability benefits” from the RI income tax.
Below the fold are…
- Even more income tax exemptions,
- Proposed changes to the Rhode Island estate tax,
- Proposed changes to the minimum business tax,
- Proposed tax-incentive plans for promoting economic activity,
- Proposed new upper-income tax brackets, and
- A few other tax odds-and-ends.
1. S0598: Establishes a legal regime for physician assisted suicide in Rhode Island. (S Judiciary; Thu, May 28)
2. H5074: Minimum wage increase; likely to be amended at the committee session. (H Labor; Thu, May 28)
3. S0318: Prohibits medical health insurance premium rates from varying based on gender (excluding policies for “hospital confinement indemnity”, “disability income”, “accident only”, “long-term care”, “medicare supplement”, “limited benefit health”, “specified diseased indemnity”, “sickness of bodily injury or death by accident or both” and “other limited benefit policies”. (S Health and Human Services; Thu, May 28)
Legislators are drawing invalid conclusions about schools’ variable costs in Cumberland based on the district’s experience with charter schools.
1. H5790: From the official description: “This act would provide parents of K-12 students in Rhode Island with an opportunity to enroll their child in an educational program of their choosing, either via open enrollment in a traditional public school in their own district or any other public school district, or by receiving a scholarship, with designated public monies to follow the student to a participating private school or private curriculum program selected by the parent”. Scholarships can be up to $6000 and are income adjusted. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)
2A. H5795: Permanent moratorium on establishing or expanding charter schools in Rhode Island. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)
2B. H5794: From the official description: “This act would remove a city or town’s financial obligation to contribute to their resident students who enroll in charter schools, William M. Davies, Jr. Career and Technical High School or the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center”. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)
2C. H5834: Change in the formula for capital aid for charter public school building construction, in particular, capping aid at the same percentage of the municipality where the school is located, even if the average based on all sending communities would result in a higher amount. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)
3. S0194: A minimum wage bill is scheduled to get a vote today. The bill officially in committee raises it to $10.10 per hour starting in 2016, though Jennifer Bogdan of the Projo is reporting a deal has been agreed to by leadership for $9.60 per hour. (S Labor; Wed, May 27)
4. H5083: Relief for municipalities from unfunded mandates, i.e. “If during any fiscal year the state reimbursement to cities and towns and school districts is insufficient to cover the costs of state mandates as reported by the department of revenue, the affected cities, towns and school districts may cease implementation of the state mandates at their discretion up to 50% of the value of the reimbursement shortfall, provided that: (1) Existing personnel contracts are honored in their entirety or renegotiated to the 1 satisfaction of both parties; and (2) Implementation of state mandates is restored upon the full restoration of state reimbursements”. (H Finance; Wed, May 27)
1. H6174 “The division of motor vehicles is authorized to issue driving privilege licenses and driving privilege permits to any applicant who meets the licensure requirements of this chapter but is unable to establish legal presence in the United States”. The bill then lists an extensive set of documents, two of which must be provided to establish eligibility for a “driving privilege license”. (H Judiciary; Tue, May 26) Issue 1: If “undocumented immigrants” are expected to have documents before they get their driving privilege license, then add said license as an additional document to the documents they already have, does it seem honest at any time to refer to a status of “undocumented”? Issue 2: The archaic, one-off legal concept that being able to drive is a privilege and not a right — indeed, that there is any broad class of human activities that fall into a category of government-granted “privileges” — should be should be resisted and ultimately rejected whenever it appears.
2. H5387: Government takeover of healthcare, creating a state-run insurance plan, and prohibiting providers who accept the state insurance from billing “any patient for any covered benefit” while also subjecting the providers to comprehensive price controls. (H Finance; Tue, May 26)
3A. H5104: Requires that a photo ID be presented when a person between the ages of 18 and 60 who is not blind, disabled or a victim of domestic violence uses an EBT card. (H Finance; Tue, May 26)
3B. H5347: Requires school-aged children of families receiving welfare benefits through the Rhode Island Works program to have an 80% attendance rate at school. (H Finance; Tue, May 26)
4. S0610: Allows a municipal economic development zone (where qualifying businesses are “exempt from the requirement to charge and collect fifty percent (50%) of the current sales and use tax…for a period of ten years”) to be established “in a municipally designated and state-approved ‘growth center’ in accordance with the Land-Use 2025 element of the state guide plan”. (S Finance; Tue, May 26)
5. S0348: Prohibits condominium associations from making up rules that “shall prohibit any reasonable accommodation for religious practices, including the attachment of religiously mandated objects to the front door of a condominium unit”. (S Judiciary; Tue, May 26) Recent events in Cranston, where the school committee took it upon itself to decree that people aren’t required to go to church during school hours on Good Friday, raise a question about this bill: Is the reference to “religiously mandated objects” something narrower than “religious objects”, i.e. does this bill put condominium associations in the position of being able to decide that yes that’s a religious object on your door, but you still have to take it down because we don’t think your religion requires you to put it there.
A number of major bills in the policy areas of education, state “planning”, and illegal immigration were added to this week’s General Assembly committee calendars at the start of the week…
S0607: From the official description: “This act would provide parents of K-12 students in Rhode Island with an opportunity to enroll their child in an educational program of their choosing, either via open enrollment in a traditional public school in their own district or any other public school district, or by receiving a scholarship, with designated public monies to follow the student to a participating private school or private curriculum program selected by the parent”. Scholarships can be up to $6000 and are income adjusted. (S Education; Wed, May 20)
H5644/H6041/H6042: Allows cities and towns to decline to “comply with any provision” related to local planning laws or with “the state guide plan relating to affordable housing programs” by filing a notice with the chief state planner. (H Finance; Thu, May 21)
Other bills on state “planning” below the fold…
S0391: “The division of motor vehicles is authorized to issue driving privilege licenses and driving privilege permits to any applicant who meets the licensure requirements of this chapter but is unable to establish legal presence in the United States”. The bill then lists an extensive set of documents, two of which must be provided to establish eligibility for a “driving privilege license”. (S Judiciary; Thu, May 21)
Other bills on illegal immigration below the fold…