Assertions by tax-increase advocates that Tiverton needs a large reserve fund for debt reasons don’t match the numbers for other RI cities and towns and, anyway, have priorities out of whack.
What is important to keep in mind here is that, unlike the mayors and city councils of cities like Central Falls and Woonsocket, fire districts do not start out from a position, under the general laws of Rhode Island, of being able to tax without direct voter approval. Fire-district levies still have to go to the voters, and it should not be assumed that empaneling a budget commission automatically negates this. A budget commission should have to submit a budget it formulates to the same voters who recently rejected the others, and re-modifying the fiscal stability act to say in effect that the union is permanent while the voters can be relegated to an advisory role (at best) is not a satisfactory solution here.
This means that the final stage built into the fiscal stability act, receivership aimed at an official bankruptcy proceeding, where everything is put on the table including the entirety of existing contracts, will be a real possibility once the state steps in. And rightly or wrongly, the realities of political pressures and “financial market forces” are that it will be much easier to send a fire district into full-blown bankruptcy than sending municipal governments has been.
Coming up in Committee: Thirty Sets of Bills Being Heard by the RI General Assembly, April 15 – April 17
1A. S2511: Mandates that all Rhode Islanders “obtain and maintain creditable coverage pursuant to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act enacted by the Congress of the United States”. (S Health and Human Services; Tue, Apr 15) There doesn’t appear to be an exemption for (Federal) executive-branch waivers in this bill.
1B. S2533: Creates a panel operated under the leadership of the healthcare commissioner (“referred to herein this chapter as ‘the authority’”) charged with creating a plan for making “HealthSourceRI the sole hub for securing insurance or health services coverage for all Rhode Island residents”, aggregating all medical funding for health insurance and/or health care services through HealthSourceRI, establishing “global spending targets” for the provision of healthcare, and developing a plan to pay for it all that includes a payroll tax. (S Health and Human Services; Tue, Apr 15)
2. H7285: Repeals the section of the law allowing “deferred deposit” loans, i.e. “pay-day” loans, also repealing the provisions in the law that allow check-cashing businesses to automatically operate as pay-day lenders. (H Finance; Wed, Apr 16) According to the official description, this is a complete repeal of pay-day lending.
3. H7944: Adds fire districts to the “fiscal stabilization law”, the law that allows the state to displace the elected local governments of financially distressed communities and supersede them with budget commissions and receivers. (H Finance; Tue, Apr 15) The Senate version will be heard on the floor on the same day; it looks like a budget commission, at least, for Central Coventry is coming soon.
4. H7067: Prohibits building schools anywhere in Rhode Island on the sites of former mines, but really intended to prevent construction of the new Blackstone Prep elementary school. This bill is listed under the “scheduled for consideration” portion of the agenda, which means it is very likely to be voted on, though it’s possible that an amended version will be introduced. (H Education and Welfare; Wed, Apr 16)
5. On Tuesday, April 15 the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear this year’s raft of gun-control bills. Here’s a link to the entire agenda, plus there are two gun-related bills from an earlier hearing that day, S2719 and S2720. The two most important bills in this set are:
- S2814: Reduces the right-bear arms in Rhode Island, to a government-granted privilege, by changing the “shall issue” process by which municipalities grant concealed carry firearms permits to a “may issue” criteria.
- S2774: Provides for information related to mental-health related involuntarily commitments to be added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) database used for conducting firearms purchase background checks.
Rhode Island (with the rest of the states) is apparently experiencing an employment boom, although the evidence is difficult to see outside of the statistics.
Superior Court Judge Brian Stern’s order liquidating the Central Coventry Fire District describes the crisis the district is in very succinctly…
The yearly operating expenses of the fire district were far in excess of the amount of funds that was being generated by taxes and other fees. The board had created what can only be described as an elaborate Ponzi scheme to hide this from the taxpayers, which resulted in a multimillion dollar structural deficit. A twenty, thirty, or even a fifty percent increase in taxes would not even resolve the entire structural deficit the board had created at the time.Full detail on how the district got into this position, is in the main post.
Pulled from most context, Rhode Island’s February employment picture looks great. With a little bit of context, though, it’s difficult to remain upbeat.
The secular and radical movement of separatists and censors has spread even to the point of demanding banishment of Catholic priests from Catholic schools, if they fail to conform to the demands of popular culture.
The 38 Studios bond buyers got an extremely high interest rate on the bonds because of the risk they took, and the state purchased insurance against the chance of default. But should we still repay the full amount of the bonds?
Steve Ahlquist has published a portion of the testimony he will be giving in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Senate Bill 2641, which is an attempt to revoke Rhode Island’s current Voter ID law. Calling upon the memory of “Governor” Thomas Dorr, Ahlquist writes: Arguably, next to Roger Williams, no Rhode Islander has [...]
Another organization speaking out against the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Spotlight on Spending report appears to have a business model that charges dues for access to taxpayer-funded services.
Employees of the RI Hospitality Education Foundation came to the defense of the Governor’s Workforce Board, which the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity recommended eliminating, and which supplies one-third or more of the foundation’s funding.
HealthSource RI has spent $1,115,666 on advertising for the five-month period from October 13, 2013, to March 14, 2014.
Interviews & Profiles
Justin and Bob Plain talk about the pay differential between men and women.
Both GOP candidates, Ken Block and Allan Fung have appeared on WPRI’s Newsmakers. Here’s both videos. Enjoy!
Friday’s discussion on Wingmen was about the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Spotlight on Spending report.