You just can’t spin Rhode Island’s poor performance, particularly in recent years. The evidence is just too pervasive.
Based on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), the Ocean State has been 48th in the nation since 2012, during the Chafee years. Looking at employment, the state has been completely stagnant since May 2015, when Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s had implemented her own policies. Now, we’re back to 50th on CNBC’s ranking of states for business.
Again: You just can’t spin these numbers. The only legitimate response is that our state is clearly, obviously doing something wrong and needs to rethink its approach.
But reality has not been something to stop Rhode Island’s progressive Democrats. Our Senate president illustrates something I’ve noted before, that elected officials are more interested in gaming the statistics than changing what’s wrong:
“It doesn’t matter whether those surveys are real or unfair – they’re there, and we’re judged on them,” Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed said in 2013.
And CNBC writer Scott Cohn notes the familiar ring of rhetoric from our current governor:
To hear the governor tell it, Rhode Island is just a few years away from becoming a little business powerhouse.
These big changes, she contends, “will make it cheaper and more attractive to do business here.”
But Raimondo is not the first Rhode Island governor to claim that the state has turned over a new leaf.
Simply put, the first priority of Rhode Island insiders is to maintain their advantage and protect the policies and special deals that give it to them. Sure, they wouldn’t mind if the economy improved (if only to get these annoying rankings off their backs), but it has to happen in a way that doesn’t harm their leverage. Similarly, they wouldn’t mind if educational outcomes improved for Rhode Island students, but that has to happen without harming their friends and allies in the teacher’s unions or limiting their ability to pass feel-good policies concerning (for example) recess and transgender bathrooms from the top down.
Unfortunately for the rest of us, the things that the insiders are protecting are the fundamental reason for our state’s suffering.