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planetcovid-wide

Raimondo Rips out Goalposts Altogether as Governors Carefully Disregard Most Important Datapoint

As you probably know, the original justification for the COVID-19 lockdown was to prevent the overwhelming of hospitals. This never happened; not in Rhode Island nor in any state other than hotspot New York (where it got close); not even at the height of the pandemic. Click here to view Justin Katz’ latest, very informative tracking graph of COVID-19 trends in Rhode Island. You’ll note that hospitalizations in Rhode Island, in fact, peaked THREE WHOLE MONTHS AGO.

Keep this critical piece of information in mind as we move now to Rhode Island’s COVID-19 press conference yesterday.

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Union Political Spending: A Web of Corruption

Not every teacher, first-responder, clerk, or other public servant considers themselves to be Democrats or part of the “progressive-left” movement in Rhode Island. Yet every employee who is member of a government union in our state is paying dues that directly support this extreme political agenda… along with the corrupt quid quo pro that comes with union political spending. A new report, from our Center, exposes that Rhode Island’s hyper-partisanship and radical agenda is funded by government union political spending: Click Here Now To Read It.

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Death Arrives – Lockdowns Now Demonstrably Indefensible

The survival rate for COVID-19 is now in the range of 99.35% – 99.74%, per CDC data. But even this high rate is almost certainly on the conservative side as it does not include all unidentified cases, an important data point which scientists continue diligently to try to quantify.

Moreover, COVID cases are rising but COVID deaths are falling.

Conversely, grimly, deaths from the lockdown have moved from projection to reality and are rising.

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Roland Benjamin: $23,000/Student is Already More than Sufficient Funding

I have been close to these budgets. Very close.

A “lack of funding” cannot be the culprit for every decision from local officials that change services or reconsider programming. When a 1% or 2% fiscal nudge in anything is blamed, I seriously question the competence and/or the integrity of those using the argument.

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Ideals that Make America and Rhode Island Strong

Have a happy and proud Independence Day weekend. Now is the time to celebrate America’s great and noble ideals. Sadly in the Ocean State, the political class has taken too much from hard-working Rhode Island families and businesses. The chosen few have benefited from the broken system, while the rest of us have suffered.

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Summer Budget Battle: Status Quo Approach Will Not Work

Enough is enough. For too long, the political class has taken more than what they needed from hard-working Rhode Island families and businesses. The chosen few have benefited from the broken insider system, while the rest of us have suffered. Now, Rhode Island lawmakers will return this summer, and decide the fate of our state for a century to come.

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New Report Lays Out a Budget Strategy for Rhode Island Prosperity

With about one-billion dollars in anticipated revenue shortfalls, and with recent statements from leading Rhode Island lawmakers indicating a general feeling of helplessness, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity published a new report this week with proven budget strategies that can help put the state on a long-term trajectory towards prosperity.

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Clay Johnson: Officials Forgetting Foundational Importance of Hum of Running Economy

I applaud the decision makers, at all levels of government, that quickly responded to the medical crisis. But health issues only represent one component of the challenges in front of us. We all hunkered down for weeks to ‘flatten the curve.’ Our common goal was to ensure that, as a community, we had enough hospital beds for those most vulnerable. Well, we’ve flattened the curve. (And we know now that the survival rate of COVID-19 in the United States is almost 95%.) Why then are governments having a hard time moving to the next stage during this time of testing? I can only believe that most people were more familiar with the fears and responses to the medical side of the crisis.

Let’s explore the impact on small businesses. Almost half of all employees in the United States work for a small business. In fact, 96% of Rhode Island businesses are small businesses. They are the engine of our economy. Business owners can feel in their bones, the impact of this shutdown on Rhode Island. We owe it to the rest of the citizens of Rhode Island to communicate this feeling.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: The Emergence Begins…?

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for May 4, included talk about:

  • The governor and reopening
  • Hospitalization counts
  • The General Assembly peeks its head out
  • Mattiello and the AG
  • Achorn drops from the Providence Journal editorial branch
  • A big budget hole

I’ll be on again Monday, May 11, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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Larry Fitzmorris: Portsmouth Looks to Raise Taxes Over 4% With Unemployment Over 15%

The budget for next year is one of the worst produced in the last twenty years. This budget is characterized by the Council’s complete lack of interest in reducing costs to prepare for the economic downturn and its continuing emphasis on the growth of Town government. In fact, the only changes over a routine year are using the Fund Balance to provide revenue for routine spending and to cover any shortfalls in State funding. Currently the budget is at the Provisional stage and there are further votes, but significant changes after this point are rare.

The budget that begins next July 1 has a residential property tax increase of 4.43% at a time when the unemployment rates for Portsmouth taxpayers are probably at least 16%.

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Politics This Week with John DePetro: Decision Time!

My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for April 13, included talk about:

  • The governor’s handling of the virus crisis
  • The silence from everybody else
  • The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s suggestions
  • The decisions facing the governor and the people of RI

I’ll be on again Monday, April 20, at 12:00 p.m. on WNRI 1380 AM and I-95.1 FM.

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COVID-19: A Plan To Restore Financial Security to RI

In these trying times, with well over fifty thousand Rhode Islanders recently laid-off, common-sense public state-based policy can help mitigate the destructive economic impact of the Rhode Island COVID-19 crisis … and can help restore a sense of normalcy and financial security.

We need your help to tell lawmakers you want them to take action.

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McNamara’s Bid to Make Others Pay for His Heroism

The legislative proposal by Warwick/Cranston Democrat state representative Joseph McNamara has made the news rounds, but it deserves a stronger point to be made.  The press release says he’s “drafting new legislation that would help businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis by guaranteeing that business interruption insurance would cover their losses regardless of policy language.”

It’s kind of a dishonest move.  Insurance companies charge their clients rates based on the risk involved in their policies.  These charges go toward a fund to cover the estimated payouts based on the risk for each thing that’s insured.  There is competition in insurance just as there is in every other private-sector market, so companies can’t charge fees that are so high they’re disconnected from this relationship to payouts.

If the General Assembly and governor pass a law that requires insurance companies to pay for events that were deliberately left out of the calculation of risk, the insurance companies will have to find that money somewhere.  One way or another, that means distributing the cost among other clients.  The complications of reinsurance (insurance for unexpected insurance payouts), do not change this fundamental fact; they just mean the spread is broader.

If government officials want to insure Rhode Island businesses against a loss during a crisis, they should do it the more-honest way of using government funds.  The legislature and governor should make the statement that this is a worthwhile priority and will therefore either displace lesser priorities or require tax increases.

Of course, cost comes at a political price, which politicians prefer to avoid.  Thus, these sorts of mandates that make other people pay for government policies (aka hidden taxes) ensure that the McNamaras of the state can pat themselves on the back for giving away money while hiding the fact that it has to come from somebody.

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Public Policy Solutions To Restore Rhode Island’s Financial Security in COVID-19 Crisis

If we rely on American innovation in the private sector, our state can weather this horrible COVID-19 crisis! Our Center has ten proactive policy ideas that can help Ocean State businesses and families survive the crisis, while also paving the way to recovery. And, we need your help to tell lawmakers you want them to take action.

State lawmakers must find a way to get back in the saddle, demonstrate calm and deliberate leadership, and consider emergency legislation to help our citizens and businesses lead the way back. We’re recommending:

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Government-Distancing Can Help Keep Rhode Islanders Safe And At Work

We see the federal government considering bold ways to keep businesses running and money in people’s pockets. Here in Rhode Island, we’re calling on lawmakers to provide online sales tax relief to residents concerned about their physical and financial health.

Our state must do its part… The government-distancing we are recommending can help people remain at home and practice healthy social-distancing. Every sales tax dollar saved might be vitally important to families who are suffering a loss of income during these trying times.

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The 2020 Rhode Island General Assembly Bill Tracker – A Handy Way to Track the G.A.

Are state lawmakers helping to make Rhode Island a better or worse place to raise a family and build a career?

With Rhode Island already ranking a dismal 47th on the Jobs & Opportunity Index and with the worst business climate in America, the Center tracks critical pieces for legislation making their way through the Rhode Island General Assembly and what they will do to your freedom.

We evaluate bills in terms of their likely effect on the free market, the size and scope of government, the balance of residents’ interests against those of public employees and beneficiaries, and the constitutional structure of a divided government with limited power over the people whom it represents.

It is the core tenet of the Center that with greater freedom comes greater prosperity, or conversely, as is the case in the Ocean State, that a continued loss of freedom leads to the type of economic stagnation that Rhode Islanders have suffered from over the past decade.

We encourage you to follow along with us as we track the 2020 General Assembly session. Click on the link here to see our 2020 Bill Tracker.

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Christopher Maxwell: A Quick Cost Benefit Analysis for Tolls

The all-powerful director of the R.I. Department of Transportation, Peter Alviti, has invoked the authority granted to him by Gov. Gina Raimondo and General Assembly to double the toll rate at Oxford Street overpass. The increase is justified by a nebulous, internally-concocted cost-benefit formula.

I am reminded of the very telling testimony of one Mike Riley, my friend and the former head of the Connecticut Motor Truck Association, who joined us in opposition to RhodeWorks before the House Finance Committee back in 2015.

He stated: “Methinks your director protests too much. He wants way too much authority and you ought not give it to him. You ought to stop. You ought to think about this. Remember the highway intersection sign: Stop, look and listen.”

With the General Assembly’s self-proclaimed “firewall” against car tolls currently taking on water, the recently-announced move by RIDOT to “nationalize” the R.I. Turnpike and Bridge Authority, and this latest toll increase maneuver, I urge Rhode Islanders to “stop, look and listen.”

Methinks (MeKnows) you are next on the establishment’s “cost-benefit” menu. After all, the formula is very simple: your cost will always be to their benefit.

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Casimiro and Vella-Wilkinson on Pending Legislation

Guests: Julie Casimiro, State Representative, H-D 31, rep-Casimiro@rilegislature.gov
Camille Vella-Wilkinson, State Representative, H-D 21, rep-vella-wilkinson@rilegislature.gov
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.

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The Independent Man Needs YOU: Consider This Call To Civic Action

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.

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Promising the World to Sell the Policy

A couple things should be observed about the claims of RI Department of Environmental Management Deputy Director Terrence Gray on State of the State, recently.

Mr. Gray was on the show to talk about the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI).  That’s a proposed regional organization that our state government wants to permit to tax gasoline to create a slush fund for projects that can fit under the “green” umbrella.

The definition of the “tax” is the first observation that must be made.  At one point, Mr. Gray insists that TCI is not a new gas tax, but then he proceeds to describe the mechanism by which the tax is implemented.  It reminds me of an old Remi song about cap-and-trade schemes:

It sounds like cap and trade is a tax we pay then
No sir, cap and trade is just a regulation

See tax is when there’s money spent
this is just a fee to the government

With TCI, the new regional government artificially limits gasoline production and distribution, forcing companies to bid for “allowances.”  The profit from these bids goes to government.  It’s a tax.

Which brings us to the spending part of the equation.  The other important observation one can make from Mr. Gray’s commentary is that he tried to sell the new tax on a wide variety of great things that could be done with the money, when obviously, it can’t go to everything.  So, when convenient, he’ll talk about spending it on public transportation… or charging stations for private cars… or some sort of dividend or fund to offset the new costs for residents.  Until there’s a written plan, it’s possible to say that the money will do any number of wonderful things.

If we look to the spending of the similar Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which covers energy production with a regional cap-and-trade scheme, we can get some sense of what actually happens.  Maybe early on the money is used to offset something in the costs to average Rhode Islanders, but inevitably, the funds drift toward government, whether solar for municipalities, buses for RIPTA, or similar programs.

Those may or may not be worthwhile projects, but one suspects it would be a harder sell if it were made clear that TCI is, yes, just another tax to fund government activities, which ought to be funded already if they’re good ideas, given the amount we already pay for government.

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Chris Maxwell on the Truck Toll Shortfall

Guest: Chris Maxwell, RI Trucking Association, www.ritrucking.org
Host: Richard August Time: 30 minutes
In a recently completed study the state of RI learned that truck toll revenues have not yielded what had been expected or predicted by the RI Department of Transportation. This shortfall is consistent with what the local trucking industry has been predicting since the state announced its plans to toll trucks. The RI Trucking Association has filed a court case challenging the plan and more. Maxwell discusses various consequences of the tolling and the court case his Association has filed.