As is true around the state, the condition of the roads are a constant (and justified) complaint in Tiverton, with a particular focus on those that the state owns and, therefore, is responsible to fix. Oh, they’re on the 10-year plan for repair, but that means at least five more years — five more winters and five more thaws — until the worst of them are addressed.
A local landscaper asks a question that occurs to many Rhode Islanders, in one form or another:
Louis Dupont, said the state “better do something.”
“The state gets all this money from the lottery. Where does it go?” Dupont asked. “That baffles me. All that money. Where does it go?”
Asked his opinion of the eastern stretch of East Road, Dupont says: “The tractor almost jumps off the trailer.”
The state now has a $10 billion budget, and the municipalities collect another $2.5 billion in taxes on top of that. Where does all the money go?
Well, this is the Know a Guy State, and budgets fund special favors, handouts, pet projects, and a substantial pay premium for government employees. Once a chunk of cash is claimed for anything or anyone, it becomes an entitlement that is extremely difficult to take away. When money does go toward infrastructure, cost-growing mandates from the state, such as prevailing wage, drive up the expense to ridiculous heights so taxpayer dollars can’t go as far as they otherwise would.
Big-government politicians everywhere understand that they’re better off siphoning money to things that shouldn’t be priorities so that the public will consent to higher taxes and more fees in order to fund the things that they really care about, and Rhode Island has made that principle a way of life. Until we stop shaking our heads and writing it off simply as the way things are around here, the practice will continue.
But imagine if we insisted on change and our roads were rapidly repaired, perhaps even while we experienced a reduction in taxation. Decline has been a choice, and it is within our power to reverse it and rocket up the national rankings that give Ocean State residents a near-monthly slap.