It was good to see the House Finance Committee demonstrate some healthy skepticism late last week towards the $20 million bond that the Governor wants to put on the ballot for a – cue one of her favorite buzz words – “Innovation Campus”.
And it was on display Thursday as lawmakers questioned administration officials about the initiative, which would use that $20 million as seed money for a winning team of companies and universities to build a research campus, or campuses, somewhere in the state.
It was irresponsible and bordered on dishonest that, in pointing to a state with a good economy, Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor mentioned the presence of an innovation campus but not the hospitality of its business climate.
In support of the Innovation Campus plan, Pryor came armed not only with the Brookings Institutions’ report that recommended it, but a list of places across the country where government, academic and corporate dollars had been used to build something. At the top of his list was Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research in South Carolina, which was built with assistance from BMW and a $40-million bond.
Both lawmakers and voters should say “no” to this bond proposal. The very last thing that Rhode Island’s economy needs is yet another vague initiative inspired by a buzz word and funded by ever more borrowing on the taxpayers’ already maxed out credit card.