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RI’s Bad Decisions and Burning Money Instead of Tobacco

My op-ed in today’s Providence Journal places the match of Rhode Island’s experience of the tobacco settlement money (a one-time-fix turned bad debt) on the pile of bad decisions that the state government has made in the past decade or so:

According to a review by ProPublica, Rhode Island has just refinanced some of the resulting debt, with the expectation that “the deal would shave $700 million off a $2.8 billion tab due on the bonds in 2052.” In that regard, it’s a bit like the state’s pension reform, which was marketed as salvation but merely shaved about $3 billion from $9 billion of unfunded liability.

The people who operate Rhode Island’s government are racking up quite a list of these liabilities.

Speaker Mattiello at the Rhode Island Taxpayers Summer Meeting, Part 2 (38 Studios)


A retro-liveblog formatted transcript of remarks made by Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Nicholas Mattiello, at this Saturday’s summer meeting of the Rhode Island Taxpayers organization, on the subject of the aftermath of 38 Studios; including why the Speaker favors paying the bonds, why he opposes using his subpoenas in a House investigation, and what the public should expect at the end.

Speaker Mattiello at the Rhode Island Taxpayers Summer Meeting, Part 1


A retro-liveblog of remarks made by Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives Nicholas Mattiello, at this Saturday’s summer meeting of the Rhode Island Taxpayers organization. The areas the Speaker touches on include education, the gas-tax, reducing regulations in RI, and some general ideas about what governing means and how it should be done.

State GOP Endorsement Convention Results


Endorsed for Governor: Allan Fung (over Ken Block 120-46).
Endorsed for Lieutenant Governor: Catherine Taylor (over Kara Russo 134-31)
Endorsed for Attorney General: Dawson Hodgson.
Endorsed for Secretary of State: John Carlevale.
Endorsed for United States Senate: Mark Zaccaria (over Kara Russo 151-14).
Endorsed for Congressional District 1: Cormick Lynch (over Stan Tran 54-21).
Endorsed for Congressional District 2: Rhue Reis.

Brief excerpts from each endorsed candidate’s acceptance remarks are below the fold.

12/03/13 – Sales Tax Commission

Justin liveblogs another commission hearing on eliminating the state sales tax, this time concerning the state’s economic modeling of the proposal and alternatives from the Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

09/30/13 – Commission to Study the Sales Tax Repeal

Justin liveblogs another commission hearing about repealing the sales tax.

09/12/13 – Commission to Study the Sales Tax Repeal

Justin writes live from the legislative commission to study the sales tax repeal.

07/02/13 – House and Senate Floors Sakonnet River Bridge Toll Surprise

A sort-of liveblog culled from Justin’s tweets during the reemergence of Sakonnet River Bridge tolls in the legislature.

06/18/13 – House Finance Committee (Budget Introduction)

Justin writes live from House Finance on budget-introduction night.

04/25/13 – House Finance, Sakonnet River Bridge Tolls

Writing live from a House Finance committee hearing on the Sakonnet River Bridge toll.

02/20/13 – Economic Development Presentation, State House

Another economic development study presentation at the State House, liveblogged.

02/13/13 – Senate Finance Committee, Sakonnet River Bridge Tolls

Justin writes live from the Senate Finance hearing on repealing the Sakonnet River Bridge toll.

01/24/13 – Senate Improving Rhode Island’s Business Climate Summit

Justin liveblogs from the Senate’s “Moving the Needle” Summit.