Content Types

Analysis

A Republican Primary Primer


As we head towards Presidential Primary Day in Rhode Island, Anchor Rising/Ocean State Current would like to do its part to reduce the number of surprises that people might experience during the Republican primary and corresponding delegate selection process. So, be aware that…

1. Republican Primary voters will be voting in 3 elections, not 1.

2. Because of the 10% threshold rule, it is very possible that John Kasich and Ted Cruz will emerge from Rhode Island with at least 3 delegates each.

3. Primary voters can participate in choosing the delegates for any of the candidates, not just the one candidate they vote for — and if no candidate has a majority of delegates heading into the convention, this could matter.


RI Campaign Finance Law Nears Its Unconstitutional Conclusion with H7147/S2369

Legislation targeting individuals who advocate on local ballot questions would infringe on constitutional rights and could expose the flaw in all campaign finance law.


Passing Unconstitutional 7147 Cluelessly

The House floor debate on 7147 betrays the reality that legislators pass laws having no idea what they actually do or what their consequences might be.


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Research

March 2016 Employment: On the Plus Side of Stagnation

Rhode Island’s employment results were generally positive, for March, but the context of other states and of long-term trends advises caution before proclaiming a break of the Ocean State’s stagnation fever.


February 2016 Employment: More of the Same

RI’s February employment data is, at best, stagnant, but compared with its neighbors and other states around the country, the Ocean State is losing considerable ground.


January 2016 Employment: New Year, Still Stuck

Unlike recent years, Rhode Island’s employment numbers didn’t kick off 2016 with a boom (later to be revised down); combined with downward revisions and stagnant results, Rhode Islanders should be concerned.


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Opinion

What’s Really in Your Best Interest? Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI)

This week on “What’s Really in Your Best Interest?”, we examine the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s new Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI.) (RIFreedom.org/JOI)

My guest this week is Justin Katz, the Research Director for the Center and Managing Editor of the Ocean State Current. Justin is the creator of the JOI measure, a new tool designed to give lawmakers a broader view of Rhode Island’s economy than the traditional unemployment rate.

JOI is a national index of states that incorporates three major factors, comprised of over a dozen variables derived from government reported data:

1) A proper measure of employment as it relates to labor force,
2) A measure of job/employment levels as compared with public assistance rolls, and;
3) A measure of personal income as compared with government tax receipts collected

Please watch the video now and see this months post on JOI here.


James Kennedy: Signs from On High

James Kennedy argues that road design, not signage is the key for assessing and handling traffic, and that a 6/10 boulevard design makes for better design than a DOT-designed tunnel.


Buses, Details, and Ideology

If there’s a “conservative case” to be made for dedicated bus lanes, it’s more difficult in an area that’s swamped with a progressive system.


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Investigative Report

Cooler & Warmer Time Line and the Commerce Corp.’s Promotional Focus

The Commerce Corp. is being vague about the time line of the development of the failed “Cooler & Warmer” brand, which raises questions about what it’s hiding and whom it’s promoting.


Was Final RhodeWorks Vote Scheduled Before the Bill Was Submitted?

Correspondence related to the removal of the toll gantries on the Sakonnet River Bridge on Super Bowl Sunday suggests that the date was no surprise, that the state paid a premium for the timing, and that government officials had the schedule for RhodeWorks legislation planned out well in advance.


UPDATED: Former RIICA Director: State House Pressure on Lobbyists, Members Led to Lost Job

As the latest incident showing a toxic culture in the State House, the former executive director of Rhode Island Independent Contractors and Associates (RIICA) says he was forced out after officials put pressure on the group’s lobbyists and members began to fear retaliation.


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Liveblog

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Longer Twitter

Tom Ward Calls Out Potentially Costly P.C. Bullying by State Treasurer

Echoing (presumably inadvertently) Justin Katz’ similar reservations about the General Treasurer’s “foolish politically correct showboating” with the state pension fund, Valley Breeze Publisher Tom Ward offers an excellent critique of the GT’s recently announced, very foolish new criteria for the choosing of investments for the state pension fund.

By choosing investments based on feelings and a political agenda, isn’t it possible that the fund won’t do as well as those which focus specifically on making as much money as possible for retirees? Or are we saddled with investment managers whose PC agenda is more important to them because taxpayers have to make up for their poor performance anyway?

Great point. It’s so easy to make yourself look good and claim the (highly dubious) mantle of political correctness when someone else will be forced to make up the difference financially. But it may not just be taxpayers who would have to do so. Presumably, Mr. Magaziner will make himself widely available to state retirees facing a potential haircut to explain to them how being p.c. was more important than the intactness of their pension check.


Losing JOI (Read: “Joy”) in Rhode Island

None of the research-type projects that the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity puts together are designed with an outcome in mind.  Sure, when we set out to score legislation as a means of rating legislators or to develop an index to present a better gauge for state’s economic progress, we have some expectation of the general range of the likely results, but we don’t reverse-engineer the design to hit targets.

What we’re really after are a quantification and a definition of principles that we sense to be true, because getting such things on the table allows conversation beyond conflicting assertions.  Still, sometimes even I’m surprised at (in my view) how well these things confirm my impressions, even in contravention of the received wisdom.

On our new Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), for example, the first monthly brief compares the narrative of the official unemployment rate — which is that the state has been improving and catching up with the rest of the country for years — with the narrative of the JOI findings — which is that Rhode Island has barely stopped losing ground, let alone recovering.  Indeed, the following table/chart, which isn’t published elsewhere, illustrates precisely the trend that I would have argued occurred over the last decade.

RICFP-JOI-ranksovertime-tablechart

That’s a state-level ranking of states on JOI since 2005, and Rhode Island is the pink “line.”  What it shows is that Rhode Island was hovering at the better end of the bottom 10 states until the recession, which knocked us down a few steps.  We then held that relative position until around 2011, when the election and policies of Governor Chafee stood as a marker that the state wasn’t intending to make better decisions anytime soon, at which point we slipped to 48th.  We’ve been stuck there ever since.  (The simultaneous halt of the state’s education improvement is another telling point.)

Time will tell if the approach of Governor Raimondo and House Speaker Mattiello to the economy makes any difference, but I don’t expect to see much improvement.  Trying to pick winners in the economy while reeducating the population to fit the mold that connected employers want and emphasizing the health of the government and its clients isn’t a formula for broad success.


Token Tax Cuts are Meaningless Without Spending Cuts

WPRI’s Dan McGowan offers a very good breakdown of Providence Mayor Elorza’s proposed budget.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza proposed a budget Wednesday that slightly reduces residential and commercial property tax rates but still results in an overall increase in actual taxes for most city residents thanks to a large spike in property values. …

Elorza’s $716.8-million tax-and-spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 also increases the car tax exemption to $2,000, which will result in about 6,500 low-value vehicles coming off the tax roll. All told, the mayor’s budget anticipates an additional $13.1 million in new revenue through taxes.

But because Mayor Elorza hasn’t reduced spending in his proposed budget, he has simply adjusted the tax burden slightly so he can say he (modestly) reduced the very unpopular car tax. Providence taxpayers would still pay more in taxes overall.

In a Kathy Gregg ProJo article today, Governor Raimondo and Speaker Mattiello are similarly making noises about cutting this or that tax, presumably in part on the basis of an unexpected rise in gaming revenue. But any tax cut would not be permanent, or would need to be replaced with a tax increase someplace else, if they don’t reduce spending the budget and gaming revenues fall, as everyone agrees they inevitably will.


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Interviews & Profiles

Arthur Christopher Schaper: Cicilline’s “Grand Theft Auto” Sanctuary City

Arthur Christopher Schaper asks illegal immigration expert Jessica Vaughn about the consequences of sanctuary city policies under former Providence Mayor David Cicilline.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 46 (Congressional Debates)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss the candidates for U.S. Congress from Rhode Island (mostly by way of the issues).


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 45 (Secretary of State Debate)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss a debate between candidates for RI Secretary of State and related topics.


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