House Minority Leader Brian Newberry this morning issued the following statement via e-mail. The proposal to implement a fair funding formula is already fraught with concern and suspicion that “fair” has been pre-defined as “divert ever more funds from suburban and state taxpayers to certain cities”. The governor’s refusal to include a Republican legislator in the working group only heightens the perceived bias of the working group’s goal.
Newberry Questions Transparency, Purpose of Funding Formula Group; Calls Governor’s Actions “Bizarre”
STATE HOUSE – House Minority Leader Brian C. Newberry (R. North Smithfield) has questioned the transparency and purpose of the “Fair Funding Formula Working Group” announced on October 22 by Governor Raimondo to study the current school funding formula. Said Newberry: “I was immediately struck by the lack of Republican legislative appointments to this important high profile endeavor despite the Governor’s ability to squeeze four Democratic legislators onto the 29 member committee. Given that protocol calls for bipartisan legislative appointments to committees like this I assumed it was an oversight and the next day I requested a Republican House member be added to bring some bipartisan flavor, an obvious benefit to all.”
“First they ignored it. Then the stonewalling began. They told me they needed the Speaker’s permission, an odd excuse given this was an exclusive Gubernatorial operation but I suggested they were free to ask him if they thought it important. Speaker Mattiello confirmed that no one broached the subject and, of course, he had no objection to adding a GOP member.”
“Delay followed delay with no answers. Finally 39 days later they refused without comment. This is bizarre behavior with only two explanations. Minority representation provides transparency so the whole operation may be a sham with an ulterior motive. If so, current members ought to be resentful that their time is being wasted and their good names are being unwittingly used to provide cover for something. The other explanation is that the Governor lives in a tone deaf bubble with no care for public perception and this is another in a long line of missteps such as hiding the ball on her truck toll plan, fighting common sense public records requests and generally trying to prevent public scrutiny of her actions. Frankly, I suspect it is a combination of both, which is one reason for her lowly 46% (corrected) approval rating.”