How about we end the day with some conspicuous fairness?
So… that 24/7 Wall Street index showing Rhode Island with the worst roads and bridges in the country. The bottom line is that this result can’t really be pinned on our current governor, Democrat Gina Raimondo. Yes, one could point out that the data appears to be from 2015 and 2016, during which time she was in office, but that was early in her term, and she was working on RhodeWorks. Yes, one could suggest that her program’s emphasis on increasing revenue means that RhodeWorks goes in the wrong direction and that the introduction of tolls makes it a net negative, or even a potential disaster, but that’s outside the scope of this index.
More importantly, that very view of RhodeWorks illustrates the long-term predicament into which our state has allowed itself to sink, beginning well before Gina Raimondo was a public figure. The money we pay into government for things like maintaining infrastructure doesn’t actually go to those things, and nobody currently in office (who is able to do much) challenges the insider game that draws the funds away.
Earlier today, Gary Sasse tweeted the observation that it’s “hard to improve road conditions regardless of money if road builder, RIDOT, union axis is not addressed.” One can only reply (as I did) that this axis is the one thing in Rhode Island that can never be challenged, because it is the essence of the state.
It shouldn’t be the essence, though, and it should be challenged. That’s where criticism of Raimondo would be fair, especially to the extent that people supported her based on the promise that pension reform was only the beginning of her reform of the insider system (as insufficient as it was). Roads and bridges are a long-running problem, in our state, but placing ambition over real reform is Raimondo’s own betrayal.