Despite policies that have caused the Ocean State to suffer with the 50th ranked business climate, the 48th rank on the Family Prosperity Index, and the 48th rank on the Center’s Jobs & Opportunity Index, our new 2016 “Sheeple” Index demonstrates that there is scant dissent among Rhode Island lawmakers who vote for such policies. The 2016 “Sheeple” Index is a collaboration between WatchdogRI.org and our Center. In a healthy democracy, there should be a rigorous debate of diverse policies. Sadly, and conversely in Rhode Island, it seems that when leadership authorizes bills to move forward, legislators feel compelled to automatically support them.
An alarming number of lawmakers vote in lock-step with leadership here in the Ocean State. Rhode Island families deserve more than a big political machine controlling Rhode Island. Voters this November must decide if this is how they want their government to be run. This index ranks how often state Representatives and Senators voted in lock-step with leadership. Even with the 2016 General Assembly scoring a dismal (-54.1) on the Center’s 2016 Freedom Index, there was little opposition as more than half of all lawmakers voted with the House Speaker or the Senate President over 95% of the time.
The statistics in this report present an alarming pattern of elected officials blindly following the leader. Of the 2016 House’s 489 bills examined, excluding resolutions and solemnizations, there are 24 Representatives that voted at least 98% of the time with the Speaker. Of the Senate’s 487 bills, there are 11 Senators that surpassed the 98% sheeple threshold of casting votes in lockstep with the Senate President. Why do we continually do this to ourselves? It is time to change the status quo here in Rhode Island.
For too long, the insiders have dominated the public policy debate in Rhode Island. We have seen the results in the lives of many of our state’s citizens. There are better solutions than the failed big government system. If only legislators were to realize that there are proven free market ideas that can restore prosperity to the Ocean State. Every Rhode Islander deserves a chance to achieve their hopes and dreams. Your voice is powerful, and by speaking out against the status quo you can have a major impact. It is time for citizens to demand change for our families.
Mike Stenhouse is the CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.