I’ve got the “con” side of a Providence Journal commentary-page presentation of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s college tuition proposal, today:
The typical transition of students to adulthood goes something like this: Children begin attending public school in kindergarten (or earlier) and graduate with diplomas at the end of the 12th grade. Depending on their interests, aptitude and resources, they will either begin working, pursue vocational training or enter college. These decisions are all highly personal and represent only the beginning of a long life in the productive labor force.
In general, where is Rhode Island going wrong for its young folks in this story?
Hint: It isn’t the lack of opportunities for insiders to buy votes or take more money from taxpayers.
On the “pro” side is Deval Patrick who (as one might expect of a politician) tries to take credit for his state’s long slog toward health, proclaiming that “in many ways, from the perspective of a shifting economy, Rhode Island today looks like Massachusetts did 10 years ago.” Umm. Massachusetts’s Prop 2 1/2 tax reform went into effect in the early ’80s. The Bay State’s education reforms were implemented in the early ’90s. On that count, as I’ve written before, Patrick’s capitulation to the teachers’ unions placed a political ceiling on Massachusetts’s progress, and its standardized scores haven’t improved.
Raimondo’s got the front-page plastered with her face under the headline, “The Raimondo Brand: Nation’s top Democrats tout R.I. governor as icon of party’s ideals.” If that’s true, the national party is gambling a great deal on the governor’s phony self promotion. I end my op-ed quoting from Crimetown and suggesting that “free tuition” both compromises its beneficiaries morally and makes us all suckers. One suspects a national audience won’t be as inclined to ignore the utter failures of Rhode Island government, nor be impressed with the numbers games of its “reforms,” nor desire to emulate the policies of a governor under whom employment growth has almost entirely stopped.