Checking in with Rhode Island’s employment and jobs numbers just before the annual revision by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we see overall a gradual improvement that lags the region and most of the country.
Guests: Julie Casimiro, State Representative, H-D 31, rep-Casimiro@rilegislature.gov
Camille Vella-Wilkinson, State Representative, H-D 21, email@example.com
Host: Richard August
Topic: Vaping and other pending legislation
Host: Richard August Time: 60 minutes
Representatives Casimiro and Vella-Wilkinson discuss a broad range of pending legislation and other matters, which have their concern. Topics include vaping legislation; a veteran joint oversight committee; pharmacist having birth control prescription authority; reproductive health; firearm legislation; climate control; out of school time learning; early parole for young rehabilitated offenders; military sexual assault trauma; and more. Other matters include the need for a constitutional convention; line item veto; minimum wage; and candidate endorsements.
Is it time for you to get involved… to save our state? If we are ever going to change the policies that are driving away families and crippling businesses, the sad truth, my friend, is that we are going to have to change the players.
Rhode Island’s political class is so beholden to so many special interest groups and agendas, that they are paralyzed when it comes to considering common-sense, pro-growth policy reforms.
You can’t let them get away with it! The political insiders are planning a new gas tax that will harm Rhode Island families. We’ve fought back hard, but there is still more to do…
The common interests of labor unions and progressives are draining the Ocean State of its lifeblood.
Q. What is TCI?
The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is a multi-state regional agreement designed to drive up the price of motor fuel (gasoline and on-road diesel). As a regressive tax, the TCI Gas Tax will disproportionately harm low-income families, especially those who live some distance from commercial centers or their workplace.
Guest: Terrence Gray, Deputy Director, RI Dept. Environment Management, dem.ri.gov
Host: John Carlevale Time: 30 minutes
TCI is a multi-state effort of transportation, energy and environmental agencies to work collaboratively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through fees. The model is a “cap and invest” approach which Gray explains will generate revenue which will be invested in more environmentally friendly systems to cut greenhouse gasses. The challenging question is: Will these fees levied at the petroleum produces increase the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel?
As public attention understandably turns to legal developments in the toll case and the very visible construction of toll gantries around the state, it is important to note how the governor explicitly broke her word on the critical matter of when toll gantries would go up and highlight the heavy financial consequences to which she has needlessly exposed Rhode Island residents with this completely unprincipled volte-face.
In today’s Providence Journal, I contrast the difference between national economic policies and what we put up with in the Ocean State:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Making America great, making Rhode Island worse. Facing the real world, living in a pretend world.
The contrast could not be more striking. Recently in Davos, Switzerland, despite impeachment distractions, President Trump systematically laid out America’s successful roadmap to unprecedented freedom and prosperity, with trillions in investment dollars and a flood of companies choosing to repatriate to America.
Conversely, Rhode Island’s political class follows a government-centric command-and-control approach, resulting in the worst business climate in the nation as well as economic and educational stagnation that is forcing families and businesses to choose to flee our state.
It is not by accident that the proposed Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is losing support among many of the states it has targeted… to the point where some proponents are considering a Plan-B.
Last week, I traveled to Boston to meet with other organizations from east coast states who oppose TCI, a regional compact targeting 12 states and Washington DC that seeks to impose a 5 to 17 cent per gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel, with the intent of forcing Rhode Island to drive less often and into more costly and less convenient electric vehicles and public transportation options.
In President Trump’s economic speech in Davos, he attributes the recent economic strength of the United States to policies that put “the American worker” at their center. Agree or disagree with the president (from any of the angles at which it would be possible to do so), he raises an important point. We tend to get caught up in our preferred solutions or our own interests, to the detriment of our causes and our communities.
Listening to episode 10 of the Tiverton on Track podcast from the Tiverton Taxpayers Association, titled “Living in (And Budgeting for) a Community,” one hears that theme sneak in repeatedly.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for January 20, included talk about:
- The governor’s budget (and popularity)
- The speaker’s interest in the Convention Center
- The women’s march
- Big money state jobs, especially corrections
With the advocates for the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) now revving up for their cause, and with Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo remaining intrepid in her desire to push Rhode Islanders out of their cars for the good of the planet, Ocean Staters might wonder where we stand already on the gas tax. Fortunately, the American Petroleum Institute has compiled information on all states’ gas taxes, and the Tax Foundation provides this useful map:
Taking note that none of these numbers includes $18.40 added per gallon by the federal government, we can say that Rhode Island is most definitely not in need of new taxes on this basic fuel. If the TCI tax were to be implemented at the 17-cent high that has been cited, the Ocean State would rocket to 4th highest.
The more freedoms we have, the more prosperity we will enjoy. The constitutional government of our great nation was formed to preserve our freedoms. But in the Ocean State, we reduce freedoms … and we suffer the consequences.
As the 2020 General Assembly Session begins, and we are once again looking at even more of status quo (or worse) based on the policy agenda from the political class, when will Rhode Islanders say enough is enough?
Instead of focusing on the real issues harming the business climate of our state… the insiders are looking to restrict the rights of citizens by stopping the use of plastic straws and bags. Give me a break.
Back before many people trusted the Internet as a medium through which to conduct consumer transactions — or even thought to use it for that purpose — I would periodically travel over the bridge from the University of Rhode Island to Newport to hit the Music Box, a record store on Thames Street. When searching for recordings of the (sometimes relatively obscure) music I was studying for performance or theory, a trip of that distance was often unavoidable.
Now we’ve reached the point that almost any recording you might want to hear is available instantly on a portable device for a relatively inexpensive annual subscription. It isn’t difficult to understand why the business model of stores like the Music Box has hollowed out.
As Scott Barrett reports, however, Rhode Island’s pitiless government didn’t make it any easier for the store — which just closed after extending its life by changing its product mix — to survive:
Jay added that operating a business in Rhode Island, and Newport specifically, is getting more and more difficult because of the mounting taxes.
Express, a clothing store located directly next to the Helly Hansen store, also had signs in the window Thursday announcing a going-out-of-business sale. An associate at Express told The Daily News the store will close at the end of the month. Across the street, a pair of stores — The Tourist Trap and Nautical & Nice — had signs on the door that read “Sorry, closed.”
Defenders of Rhode Island’s insider status quo sometimes assert things like, “Businesses don’t go under because the tax rate is a couple percentage points higher,” or, “People move south for the weather, not the tax savings.” Such arguments, while they may be untrue because too simplistic, make valid points, but they miss the critical point. Our government shouldn’t be laying sticks on the camel; it should be striving to accomplish what it needs to accomplish with the least amount of disruption possible.
Politicians are terrible at predicting and adequately considering the consequences of their policies. Rhode Island officials frequently prove they can manage to provide targeted incentives so new businesses can overcome the artificial barriers, but they should be making business easier across the board so legacy businesses like the Music Box can better survive the changing landscape.
Like leaders in Communist China, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo wants to manipulate the market to advance her own political goals and power.
As you probably know, Governor Gina Raimondo is proposing that Rhode Island sign on to TCI (Transportation and Climate Initiative), a regional carbon cap-and-tax program on transportation that would involve, among other things, Rhode Islanders paying an additional tax on gas and diesel of seventeen – twenty four cents+ per gallon. A couple of Justin Katz’ excellent posts about TCI are here and here
Let’s discuss the stated purpose of TCI. According to the governor, it is to save the planet by getting Rhode Islanders to give up their cars. This is not an exaggeration; below is what the governor says about TCI in this December interview with WPRI’s Kim Kalunian (starting at minute 03:15).
Peculiarities in long-term polling suggest that our increasingly progressive society is becoming more materialist and more Balkanized, which should raise concerns about the future.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for January 6, included talk about:
- RI Congressmen’s bad alignment with the enemy
- Projo points to key issues for the legislature
- Linc finds another party to run with
- RI pols try to get out of the way of the Census
Take action! Stand up to the upcoming TCI Gas Tax. The prices for gasoline could soon rise dramatically for your family if the Raimondo administration gets their way. It is not a sin to drive our cars and trucks! Click here to sign the growing petition.
States, like Rhode Island, that can’t compete for domestic residents seem to be back-filling their populations with new immigrants from other countries.
If you follow national economic or political news, you’ve probably caught wind of California’s new law — which takes effect this Wednesday — making it more likely that companies will have to treat freelancers as employees for the purposes of employment regulations like the minimum wage and benefits.
One reason this California law has generated so much conversation is that it affects freelance writers. In this regard, the left-wing website Vox has provided the perfect lesson on progressive rhetoric. A September 11, 2019, essay on that site by Alexia Fernandez Campbell places the issue as a win for labor unions and proclaims the headline, “Gig workers’ win in California is a victory for workers everywhere.” Fast-forward a few months, to December 17, and an article in the Los Angeles Times informs readers, “Vox Media cuts hundreds of freelance journalists as AB 5 changes loom.” Those 200 people will be replaced by “20 new part-time and full-time staffers.”
A CNBC article puts things a bit more broadly with the headline, “California’s new employment law has boomeranged and is starting to crush freelancers”:
“I don’t believe legislators realized the impact this had,” says Gene Zaino, founder and executive chairman of MBO Partners, which studies the freelance economy and provides back-office services to freelancers. “This was really designed to create a safety net for people that needed it. Legislators didn’t realize at the same time, they impacted millions of people in thousands of businesses that are using freelancers, even though that was not their intent. A lot of businesses are paralyzed, in terms of ‘everyone needs to be on payroll.'”
Oh, the legislators realized it. They just don’t care. They’ve got their eyes on other prizes than the likes of Mr. Zaino — powerful labor unions and constituencies who think progressive legislators are going to give them more handouts. And progressives realized it, too, but those gig jobs don’t fit their vision and therefore shouldn’t exist because they are institutionalized oppression (or something).
Even those of us who don’t rely on the gig economy should take notice… in a “first they came for the freelancers” sort of way. Progressives are intent on remaking the world according to their erroneous understanding of how the economy ought to work. That will mean you have a decreasing ability to decide what works for you in your life and just have to settle for the deal that government provides for you.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for December 30, included talk about:
- Elorza’s interest in being governor
- Causes and effects of Providence Mall brawls
- Disappointment in Raimondo’s failure to succeed
- Stephen Skoly’s warning about opioid nannyism
Insincere New Year’s pledges are one thing, but our non-free-market healthcare industry illustrates why we need the lessons of Christmas for our economic resolutions.
My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for December 16, included talk about:
- The governor’s Projo interview
- Where’s all the money go… in Providence and RI?
- Progressives’ state-killing tax proposal
- Women’s caucus: another progressive organization
If the Raimondo administration gets its way and bypasses the General Assembly to sign on to a new regional carbon-tax scheme, called the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), Rhode Island motorists will find a plan to increase gasoline taxes in their stockings this year.
The TCI gas tax is a cap-and-trade tax on gasoline proposed by environmental extremists who purposely want gasoline to become so expensive — estimated at an extra 24 cents per gallon — that you will be financially forced to walk or bike to work and around town. We’re expecting an important announcement this week on the new tax…stay tuned.
The key question we should ask when we hear that enrollment in teacher-prep programs has declined is whether that’s a bad thing.
As Brookings takes its “innovation industries” prescription national, Rhode Islanders might have questions about the organization’s effectiveness in their state.
State of the State co-host Richard August invited me on for a full hour of the show to cover a broad range of topics, from Tiverton’s recall election to broad political philosophy.
This Christmas season, Gov. Gina Raimondo could be the Grinch who stole affordable gasoline. If the Raimondo administration gets its way and bypasses the General Assembly to sign on to a new regional carbon-tax scheme, called the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), Rhode Island motorists will find a plan to increase gasoline taxes in their stockings this year.
TCI is a cap-and-trade tax on gasoline proposed by environmental extremists who purposely want gasoline to become so expensive — estimated at an extra 24 cents per gallon — that you will be financially forced to walk or bike to work and around town.
Like all far-left contrivances to reduce carbon emissions, TCI, a green-new-deal-type gas tax, will harm economic growth and will take money out of your pocket. Rhode Island already suffers from an Ocean State Exodus, where far too many of our children and loved ones, business investors, and neighbors are leaving for lower-cost living in other states. The TCI tax would be one more piece of coal that will drive people out of state (pun intended).
Most Rhode Islanders want a balanced approach, where there are multiple choices for abundant and affordable energy. But green-Grinches in government want to limit your options, and will force you to pay expensive new taxes if you make the wrong choice.
Only the General Assembly can raise taxes. Fortunately, the governor cannot unilaterally impose a new tax on gasoline without legislative approval. But the governor has purposely tried to keep this TCI tax under the radar. Her team has been working stealthily with unelected bureaucrats at TCI to advance the imposition of gas taxes among 12 Northeast states.
Did you know that the really high electricity prices we pay, among the highest in the country, are partly because of a different regional cap-and-trade program, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)? RGGI imposes tax-like fees on electricity power plants, which, of course, get passed on to you. Unfortunately, RGGI has been a complete failure; it has significantly increased the cost of electricity but has resulted in no added emissions reductions!
And now they want to try the same failed idea on gasoline with a TCI gas tax. Like RGGI, TCI is designed to increase the cost of fossil-based fuel so much, that families like yours — and businesses where you work — will be forced to use less of it.
Part of the RGGI and TCI schemes is that the extra money you pay at the gas pumps and on your electric bill is supposed to be spent by participating states on energy projects that are favored by greenie Grinches. Rhode Islanders understand that it is patently unfair for government subsidies to be handed-out to benefit a specific industry or company … at the expense of everyone else.
History has proven that too many government regulations and taxes on energy mean that the beneficial use of America’s rich natural resources might be put out of reach for many. Worse, such government imposed taxes as the RGGI tax and the TCI tax are regressive; they disproportionately harm low-income families who already struggle to pay heating bills and gasoline costs.
Also, many businesses, similarly burdened with higher energy costs, will be forced to reduce employee work hours, cut jobs, or even shut down and move to another state.
The secrecy must end now. The governor should have been more transparent about an issue that will cause economic hardship for many. I call on Ms. Raimondo to reject the TCI tax plan, expected out on Dec. 17; and I call on Senate and House leadership to ensure there is a robust public debate about whether you and I should pay higher gasoline taxes.
RGGI has failed miserably … and TCI is also doomed for failure. Why should any Grinch force any of us to pay unnecessarily higher gasoline taxes if it will not result in any environmental benefit?