The People Are Leaving. Be Angry.


A major theme of Sunday’s Providence Journal is that people are leaving Rhode Island.  Specifically, it’s people who are trying to build their lives, what I’ve frequently called the “productive class” — those Rhode Islanders at a point in their lives that they’re looking to start energetically trading their time for money and their potential for achievement.  It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with an argument that these are the most important people to an economy.

The paper starts off (first page, above the fold) with large bold letters: “Millennial Flight“:

“I applied for anything and everything I even remotely qualified for, including many jobs I would be considered majorly overqualified for, and even tried to work with a temp service,” said [John] DosSantos, 26. “I would say I averaged at least five applications and submissions a day. I finally realized I would be better off seeking employment in another state.”

Elsewhere, G. Wayne Miller follows up on a struggling Rhode Island family the paper profiled in May. (At the time, I highlighted the fact that they’re a charter school family.)  Here’s where the Maziarz family is now:

“I’ll miss Rhode Island,” Josh said before heading west early Friday morning in a U-Haul truck. His wife and sons Cade, 6, Jack, 4, and Charlie, 2, flew to Indiana on Tuesday.

And still elsewhere are letters from readers responding to the Projo’s running articles about the “Middle Class Squeeze.”  Kevin Audette, of Warwick, voices my feeling about the matter:

Everyone knows what’s needed, but it’s not going to happen here. It’s been studied over and over again … and it’s just common sense.

A redistributionist state, with high taxes, poor weather, no jobs, and unions calling all of the shots politically. Fewer people pull the load … and more and more people freeload in R.I.

I am also preparing to leave for Texas or Florida.

When I first started writing about who was actually leaving Rhode Island — back in 2007, when everybody was arguing over whether the rich were leaving the state — I was worried.  I thought that, if we could settle the debate about the numbers, fixing the problem would be the obvious next step. I thought that if we could change the conversation to acknowledge the reality, the state would have to change.

Nowadays, these stories just make me angry.  I’m in the middle of reading all of the legislation that received a floor vote in the General Assembly (most of which is now law); this is the third year I’ve done so.  And for the third year in a row, the most appropriate word for the legislature and governor is “relentless.”  Every single year, they make life a little more difficult and a little more expensive.  That is, they make life harder for people who want to be productive and build a future.

I haven’t gone through most of the House bills, but I have read everything that was transmitted to the governor from the Senate, and so far, I tally $168.07 million in new debt that the state government has authorized cities and towns to incur.  That’s on top of the $248 million in new debt that the legislature and governor will ask voters to approve in November (which they typically do).

That’s the financial burden.  The thousand paper cuts come with regulations, from requiring licenses for music therapists to imposing expensive new green-energy programs on Rhode Islanders.

Things have to change in the Ocean State… right away.  Yesterday.  But for that to happen, Rhode Islanders themselves are going to have to get more involved and to change their habits when they are involved, ceasing to support the same old insiders.

And the state’s media, the Providence Journal most notably, is going to have to stop seeking to undermine anybody who emerges to challenge the status quo and stop promoting those who’ve done so much damage to the state, damaging untold numbers of lives in the process.  There are reasons over 50% of legislators in the RI House have no opponents in the upcoming election, and none of those reasons are agreement with the direction of the state, and only one of them is that so many viable candidates have moved away.

  • tcc3

    I almost escaped RI this year with a 30% pay increase and a 10-15% cheaper cost of living. Hoping for better luck soon. After 20+ years of being in this state, my family & I have had enough. About 7-8 years ago my wife thought about starting her own small biz. After looking at what was going to be required she decided just to get a "regular" job and let someone else deal with the BS.

  • Roy

    After a successful career of 31 years with an out of state company and a lifetime of Rhode Island residency I decided to move over one year ago for the reasons stated in this article.
    I sold my RI home at a lower price than I wanted and purchased a much, much nice home in a state with NO income tax. When I received my property tax bill I was honestly wondering if it was for a quarter or the year. To my delight it was for the year. 37% of what I formerly paid to my town in RI (Cars included).
    I could see no reason to stay in RI as the politics probably were not going to change. Welfare would continue to grow, taxes and fees would continue to grow and from what I've seen in the past year my predictions were correct. I loved my native state, but began to feel stupid for paying so much for so little. Today…beaches with free and cheap parking, no potholes (ok, about every two weeks I encounter a little one), energy bill around $120 a month (includes heating/cooling) and beautiful surroundings year round. There are also REAL job opportunities. Escape while you can.

  • John

    My children (college grads both) have escaped this horrible state. I have been fighting this self-destructive/delusional system for over twenty years and I have about given up. The General Assembly continues to make things worse while proclaiming to be working hard for the taxpayers and small businesses in RI. What a crock of $hit! Not only are they destructive, they are ignorant of their own ignorance.

    My solution will be to leave, probably within five years.

  • Dan

    My siblings and I have all left Rhode Island to work elsewhere. I finished school in 2010 and considered working for the Attorney General’s office until my interviewer solicited a campaign contribution from me during the interview. I didn’t want to be associated with that kind of political culture and I knew it was only going to get worse over time as non-progressive, honest individuals fled (I was right).

    The only people Rhode Island serves are the insider political class and its apologists. Look at the cheerleaders on RIFuture – none of them hold real jobs or produce anything of value. Its editor lived off public assistance while running the blog, and its contributors are all unemployed, union organizers, or living off parents.

  • mangeek

    I stayed local, partly to be near family, but also partly because I thought there might be a chance to be the third generation of our family to live in the nice house my Grandfather bought in the 1950s.

    Now it's starting to dawn on me that the property taxes alone for that home are almost $1,000 a month, and 'tradition' just isn't worth that kind of financial burden.

  • Alexis

    I am escaping in October . I paid 8,000 to RI in personal income tax last year. I employ people have no kids and use no services. I / my family have very strong ties to our community here in RI. Plenty of work and opportunity for upward mobility in NH. These progressives think it’s about inequality, but it is all about opportunity.

    • Phil Spadola

      Hi Alexis

      You wrote , " I employ people have no kids and use no services. " Can you explain what you mean by "use no services" ?

      • Max Diesel

        Another left wing canned response from Phil. In the words of Hilary, "What does it matter Phil?" No one is getting their money's worth.

        • Alexis

          Hello Phil,
          Oh, wait I use the roads, but the benefit cost just doesn’t work…if you know what I mean;
          I go over the bridge and pay a toll. Have no kids/ the state doesn’t need to educate them (not that they would attend government school). I pay for private trash collection. I usually lose money when I need to contact or fill out paperwork the state may require. No snap Medicare/caid or unemployment or comp. Just paid 1,500 in sales tax to RI / had to get a new car. Not on LIHEEP, which probably drives up utility prices. I make money in other states and spend it here. So far I haven’t been arrested so the state prison has not had to house or feed me…..I could go on and on. We need to privatize the department of administration.

          • Phil Spadola

            Thanks for getting back to me. Good luck with your move in October you will not be escaping though ,as there will be no one preventing you from leaving nor will anyone prevent you from entering the state you are moving to. Other commenters have been using the same word in an overly melodramatic way. It would be somewhat amusing if not for the real example of people in our world who are trying to escape from war and famine . the unaccompanied children at the southern US border have much more claim to the word than do you. And I think you will continue to pay for public schools even though you have no children in whatever state you move to. Good luck.

          • alexis

            Think logistics and assets and money when it comes to relocating/escaping. I don't mind paying for public schools at all if they educate and prepare children for the future. I forgot to end my last post w/ Phil, please don't respond with some progressive, low end response. Make no mistake I feel lucky to have been born here in the United States and I don't mind paying for children to be educated. The conversation is about Rhode Island. So weird you are now taking on the persona of an "unaccompanied child fleeing famine and war…."

      • Guest

        Probably no school age kids, actually works so no section 8, welfare, wic…you know Phil, your worst indepedant, thinking person.

  • Guest

    I escaped RI over 8 years ago. Kiplinger, US News and CNN all say Honolulu is the 2nd most expensive city in the nation to live in and if that is so, why am I saving over $15,500.00 a year verses living back in RI? It is definitely cheaper living here than back in RI! My property tax is $300 per year, retirement income and social security are state income tax exempt, sales tax 4%, no property tax on motor vehicles, motorcycles or boats and no heating costs plus no fall, winter, spring wardrobes only summer clothes needed as median daily temperature is 78 F degrees and winter low is 60 F degrees.

  • Dan

    Guest – Want to guess how I know you’re Autistic Commenter Ken?

    • Mike

      Let it go….

  • Warrington Faust

    What's new here? I can recall Projo stories back to the 70's about young college grads leaving the state in search of opportunity. I do wonder what supports the Blackstone Boulevard area and the rest of the East Side. Hospitals? When I moved back in the middle 90's, you could buy a pretty good pile of bricks there for $150,000.

  • Autistic Ken

    @ Dan,

    Thank you!!!

    I’m going to start using your suggested name for me, “Autistic Commenter Ken” for ID because it is consistent with my message to the people; “Get out of Rhode Island because there are better and cheaper places to live with a higher quality of life, less crime, better schools, jobs, scenery, weather, and positive responsible state and local governments that are working to make life better for their state residents.”

    Warrington Faust is right, why is this subject (people moving out of Rhode Island) being addressed over, and over, and over, and over again?

    I’m getting tired of the drum beat saying the same thing and listing to Dan continuously squawk over, and over, and over like a little parrot that only trained to say the same thing! I never would have hired Dan in the RI Department of Administration or RI Department of Business Regulation.

    Rhode Island started the long slow slide downhill with Governor Edward D. DiPrete in 1985. There have been 4 new governors since then and pretty much the same entrenched career enabled politicians in the general assembly. Do you think things are going to change overnight or with the next election? I think not! Anyone thinking they can effect change in one election in RI is living on drugs! It’s going to take another 4 cycles of governors before any change starts to happen. That is close to 32 years if the state lasts that long!

    What’s going to happen in the meantime? Well your last Governor Donald Carcieri set the stage to rape the state population. What you say; and I’m not talking about 38 studios debacle. Think Deepwater Wind 5 offshore wind turbine demonstration wind farm being built by his former Chief of Staff and Wall Street (is there any conflict of interest here does this pass the smell test). The RIPUC shot this down because it was not in the public interest and would be a high cost to residents. Governor Donald Carcieri had the RI general assembly rewrite the law and rammed it down the RIPUC throat for acceptance. This move made history and has gained status with national law students writing papers about the events.

    When the demonstration wind farm finally gets put in operation the majority (about 98.5%) of power will be sent to Narragansett and National Grid via the undersea cable and the rest (about 1.5%) to Block Island because the electric grid structure has not been modernized and cannot withstand any more fluctuating alternate energy without collapsing and shutting down in protection mode. National Grid will be supplying Block Island with steady baseline power from its state-wide grid. Federal court action by the EPA in Boston, MA against Block Island Power Company recommended installing an undersea power cable as a corrective action to mitigate violations. Block Island found a way for the rest of the state population to foot the bill for them in a pretty smart slick way! How does the saying go; “There’s a sucker born every day!”

    National Grid will raise rates and it is estimated by their own study at lower than current electric rates to cost each RI city and town plus state government combined over $½ billion dollars the first year on top of normal electric rates. Each of the 38 cities and towns plus the state (Block Island is exempted from rate increase) will have to raise tax rates to offset the electric rate increase. Each year for the next 20 years electric rates will increase 3% by the fixed COLA built into the contract between National Grid and Deepwater Wing on top of any other needed electric rate increases.

    In 10 years Rhode Island will have the highest electric rates in the nation which is a great come on for attracting out of state business and retaining current in state business. The U.S. Navy closed Quonset Point and half of Navy Base Newport moving the Atlantic fleet out of RI due to high local cost. Wait till these new higher electric rates kick in before the next rounds of Base Realignment and Closure studies.

    Don’t forget your individual household electric rates will raise taking more of your hard earned dollars on top escalating taxes each year and local businesses raising prices on goods and services to keep up with raising electric rates.

    You also have RI general assembly increasing gambling and banking on the income to balance the state budget. Gambling income was supposed to be fluff income to lower taxes and add support to state-wide schools not to support the required fiscal yearly operating budget.

    Doesn’t anyone in the general assembly and the governor read the newspapers? United States-wide gambling casinos are shutting down due to bankruptcy from glut of local competition and the Indians are circling RI general assembly Smith Hill wagons as we speak. Should have let the Narragansett Indians invest and operate their own casino from the start with their own funds and RI accepted yearly payouts (free money) for infrastructure improvements. Connecticut and all the other state did it the right way with their Indian Tribes. As income drops RI will have to raise taxes to make it the short fall in the budget! More money out of state population pockets!!

    Good luck Rhode Island you are so screwed!

    • Alexis

      Remember who sponsored the bill to override PUC….patrick O’neill and Russell Jackson of jackson and O’neill law and Donna walsh (charlestown) Guess who worked for Sheldon Whitehouse as a prosecutor in the attorney generals office ? Guess what two legislators are NOT running for reelection? Who’s agenda is wind energy? Who graduated with William Moore from yale? Who is going to make money? Not us.

  • robert

    Will be leaving this welfare state very very soon. Moving to SC.
    All done with this with the thieves that are running this sate on Smith Hill. The give everything away to to illegals while they tax the hell out of the working class.

    • Glad to have you Robert~! We moved here (upstate) a year ago and have never looked back! Just love it!

  • Tommy Cranston

    Productive people leave, illegal aliens, welfare bums and trust fund lefty lunatics (Jerzyk, Handy, Segal, Smiley and thousands more) come in. It's been happening for decades and it guarantees the success of the Democrat party-and the perpetual failure of the state.
    Meanwhile, ordinary working and middle class people, too many of whom vote for the D party, scratch their heads and wonder why they pay 6 grand in taxes for their nothing houses that would cost 1 grand in Florida, Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma or other red/reddish more sanely governed states.

    And no it is NOT going to get better. Get the f*** out while you can, if you can.

    • No, no, no…. not 1 grand in Alabama for house taxes, but more like $400-$500 dollars a year.

    • Rhode island is #7 out of 50 states as to the highest amount of welfare paid out. Does that tell you anything?
      You are absolutely correct in your analysis!

  • chuckr

    The problem will fix itself in the near future. As the private sector taxpayers flee the state and the private sector tax dollars dry up the result will be the destruction of the public sector. This will be the end of government employment and retirement as we know it today. The wages, benefits and retirement will diminish or disappear. and then the problem will be fixed , total failure of the state. The voters will keep electing the same idiots, and it will be impossible to reverse course.

    • I hope that you are right – socialism's greatest weakness is that the system ends up running out of other people's money.

  • Lets not forget about those of us who have NO CHOICE but to live here…..I'm 58, on SSDI, Medicare, The SNAP Program, and living in HUD rent controlled housing….If it were up to me, I
    would move to The Great Beyond tomorrow…..unfortunately…..I have to wait for the Rules Of Engagement to allow me to do so!!! GOOD LUCK TO THE REST OF YOU…..jkp

    • Dan

      Jon – Do you think of yourself as part of the problem?

      • Yes, inasmuch as I believe that the " dynamic/support/grid " that I could have functioned and been self-sufficient on once upon a time when the world was younger was completely destroyed by The Great Recession of 2008 and is not ever coming back…..

        • If you are 58 and on medicare.. does that mean you are on disability? Oh, I guess that's what SSDI is. Are you part of the group that adheres to the "when in doubt go on disability" creed?


          • Russ

            Well, I for one am glad there's a safety net to help you out. Not sure you'll get much sympathy here although they're being unusually polite.

          • Russ: I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm trying to make people understand that the para-dine shift in the Global Economy that occurred in 2008 completely re-defined/re-set what a job is, what a job does, what a job provides, what you have to go through to get a job, how to get a job, and how to hold onto a job……and that there are some things about a person that cannot be " adjusted or fixed " in order to help them find a job….

  • tapestrycommunications

    Let me add a little breath of hope. Both my daughters got a fine education here in RI with only my youngest choosing her master's in MA. They are gainfully employed here and doing well establishing their independent lives. They both have advanced degrees (and considerable student loans). On Sunday, there was a lovely wedding of one young couple – friends of my oldest – it was one of the wedding for the stars….the bride is 28 and the groom 31. Excelling in their careers. Setting up lives to stay right here in our beautiful state. The ProJo might have looked a little harder to find the exception to what is, all too often in RI, the rule….

    • Dan

      What school/agency/non-profit/politician do they work for?

      • tapestrycommunications

        One with private corporation and one an attorney, private practice. The attorney waitressed for 9 years, and the younger worked as a drug store clerk for 8 years…excellent work ethics – team players – never thought about leaving – not an option, my daughter would say…It's not been easy, and no one "knew a guy" that helped them – just hard work and due diligence…

        • Mike

          From your description, it was your daughters' hard work ethic and determination that is allowing them to succeed here. Sadly, as you noted, your daughters' successes are becoming more like the exception in RI instead of the rule.

          • tapestrycommunications

            Interesting you say that…when my daughter wrote an essay thanking her family she wrote – "I succeeded because I was expected to…I graduated from high school – ok – I graduated from college – wonderful, dear…I got my masters at the top of my class – I expected no less from you, honey." – What is that they say – people rise to the level expected of them? I have had no bashes or galas to celebrate each milestone – just a nice family dinner or two. Change the world? Solve world peace? Fix a community need? Then, we celebrate big time! 😉 Otherwise we mark a sucessful life, with "I expected no less, honey." And I help where I can to ease the obstacles.

        • And they could have gotten their education for half what they paid in RI had they gone to school in another state! Hefty college loans for me, a professional who COULDN"T find a job to pay back those loans, so I left and in one week found a great professional job in a new state. Who did your kids know? They had to know someone to get their jobs!

          • tapestrycommunications

            My daughters went to state schools here – spent the big $ on grad education. Did they "know a guy"? Not at all. Extremely hard workers. And an amount of luck, I suppose, too. And it wasn't easy, and yes, they did have their struggles, and still do. Don't we all, these days?

        • Alexis

          Just wondering if undergrad was paid for with a tuition waiver?

  • SeaWolf

    I retired from the military in Rhode Island after 30 years of service, planning on spending my retirement years here. Now we are going to change residency to another state because of the high tax burden the state places on us. Let’s start with the state taxing my military retirement pension AND our social security as ordinary income. Elimination of those taxes alone from our retirement income will save us enough money to buy a home in a state that does not tax those two items. It was not a difficult decision to make when the numbers were laid in front of us. We would really like to stay in RI but have no choice but to leave because of the financial burden placed on us as retirees.

  • I also left RI a year ago! After five years of actively trying to get people to just listen to what was wrong and exposing corruption in various places, after receiving death threats in the mail, after having the brakelines cut on my car, after being thrown out of the Bristol Parade, after being audited three times in six months…. we packed it in. We are so happy in South Carolina that it seems like RI was a bad nightmare. My husband easily found a job here at a higher salary than he was making in RI, and our living expenses were cut by 58%.
    It was hard to get people to come out and support you if you were "rocking the boat". Most people I knew would encourage me and say "you go Girl", but then explain that they could not support me publicly because of their business, their jobs….you know the drill.
    the kicker was when I was the state leader for TruetheVote and uncovered the college registrants voting fiasco (students still voting in RI TEN years after the graduated and went home… and no one cared. "It's the way things are done!"

    If you can leave, leave now! Don't wait until it really is too late!

  • Left a month ago after toying with the idea for 2 years. Best decision I've ever made. My car insurance dropped by $1,400 a year and I have better insurance for 1/3 the price I paid in RI. Found an awesome job in my new state in a week. Had been unemployed in RI after working in State government for three years and lost my job last Feb. due to the political hoypaloy baloney that goes with the nepotism of RI's state government.

    Love the economy where I am. No three hour wait here to get my car tags. Rather, it was a simple 10 min. trip to the courthouse where I also got my license and pistol permit all in the same trip on the same day. Cost of all three, Car tags (registration) $ 23.00, Driver's License $ 18.00, and Pistol permit $ 15.00. Grand total, $ 56.00 for all three!!!!! I was shocked and couldn't believe my eyes and ears! No pot hole roads, no street gangs, no homeless pan handlers. Looking at 3 bedroom, 2 bath brand new homes with landscaping for only $89,000. And today I paid $3.09 a gallon of gas.

    More folks need to move out of that god forsaken slum state that caters to illegals, drug dealers, and corruption.

    I love it where I am and will never want to move back! When everyone moves out and the nepotistic kissing cousins have no one but their loved ones left to push around, then maybe things will change.

  • Arthur

    Many of our friends and family have already left this state, often for pure financial reasons. Places they have moved to: North Carolina, Florida, Maine, Georgia etc. I don't hear any of them saying "we want to move back", quite to the contrary, they don't want to come back. We will be following suit as soon as is practical for our family. My brother pays $600 a year in property taxes. Using current tax rates, he will be paying $6000 over the next ten years. I will be paying closer to $58,000 to $60,000. My retirement will be elsewhere, if I am so fortunate.

  • Dave

    Hi . Can you please tell me which stte you moved in and which is a good state to migrate because I am in similar situation as yours.