Topics

City/Town Government

Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


RhodeMap Brings Eminent Domain One Step Closer

Analysis of the state law purporting to protect Rhode Islanders from eminent domain suggests that RhodeMap RI makes government takings significantly easier.


Gary Morse: Accepting the Gary Sasse RhodeMap RI Challenge

The casual attitude of public intellectual Gary Sasse overlooks dangers of RhodeMap RI, perhaps in the interest of Bryant University.


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Civil Rights

Governor Raimondo’s “Blank Check”

How could a proposed new statewide property tax that’s been given a nickname homage to a part-time-resident pop star not have a parody song?


Raimondo’s Outrageous Statewide Property Tax Actually an Attack on Property Rights

Raimondo’s “statewide property tax” isn’t a tax on property at all, but a tax on “privilege,” which means she thinks the government grants it. That’s an extremely dangerous principle to accept, even if it’s limited (at first) only to “the rich.”


Gary Morse: PolitiFact RI Wrong on Stenhouse Statement

The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development is very concerned about fairness, and its definition falls within Mike Stenhouse’s characterization of it.


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Congress

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 46 (Congressional Debates)

Rob Paquin and Bob Plain discuss the candidates for U.S. Congress from Rhode Island (mostly by way of the issues).


Mark Zaccaria on Issues Facing the US Senate


After his campaign announcement, Republican Senatorial candidate Mark Zaccaria answered questions posed by Anchor Rising on the subjects of:

The guiding principle and vision of American foreign policy.

Where to go on Obamacare, from where we now are.

The institutional way to deal with executive overreach.

The gulf between the elites and the people, on illegal immigration.


Mark Zaccaria Announces for Senate


Mark Zaccaria: “[Y]our taxes, your food and your housing costs are all up as a result of what the Federal Government has done, and Jack Reed has voted yes for every single one of those increases, certainly during the last couple of terms. I contend that Rhode Islanders are ready to vote no, and it’s about high time.

But they have to have a choice to be able to do that, to be able to vote for better monetary policy, or smaller government that costs less, so that it takes less money out of your pockets. You have to have that alternative on the ballot. I hope to be the face of that message to the hard-working, tax-paying men and women of Rhode Island during this campaign.

There is another way, folks. We can do that. And I will be making that point, to anyone who will listen to me, every day between now and the fourth of November…you don’t have to vote for the guy you voted for last time. In fact, it might be better if you voted for somebody new.”


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Culture & Family

The Racist, Oppressive Progressives

Progressivism is a recipe for a new aristocracy, relying on distractions about racism and abstract bogeymen in order to herd us all into boxes.


Tribalism in the Marriage Debate

A Midwestern judge’s ruling on same-sex marriage raises questions about the relationship of parents to their children and the government to everybody.


The Sides in the Culture War

How #GamerGate points to the great metaphysical war of the universe.


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Economy

February 2015 Employment: Seeming Up While Still Down

February’s employment data begins to raise the question of whether Rhode Island will ever actually grow its labor force. The decreasing unemployment rate may be an indication that people are rapidly giving up on the Ocean State.


January 2015 Employment: Still Not a Recovery Story

The unemployment rate in Rhode Island disguises disturbing trends in Rhode Island’s employment condition.


Amazon: Failure to Lure or RI Out of the Question?

Nobody’s mentioned it, but the decision of Amazon.com to place a major distribution center in Fall River (rather than Rhode Island) may be a ripple of consequence from the General Assembly’s 2009 attempt to grab money from the company’s sales.


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Education

School Choice in RI Not a Question of Demand

Data collected by the College Board reinforces survey results showing that Rhode Islanders want alternatives to the state’s languishing public schools.


Rhode Island Education Results in Context

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity unveils an online application to compare states, including Rhode Island, and demographic groups.


Gary Morse: Accepting the Gary Sasse RhodeMap RI Challenge

The casual attitude of public intellectual Gary Sasse overlooks dangers of RhodeMap RI, perhaps in the interest of Bryant University.


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Energy & Environment

“National Grid sells renewable energy at a profit; customers get credit.” FALSE

Providence Journal environmental reporter Alex Kuffner suggests that National Grid expects to make a profit on its renewable energy and give ratepayers a credit. We rate that False.


Edwards Dances Around the Fact That I’m Right

Rep. Edwards does the politician’s trick of talking all around the fact that a critic is telling the truth.


Politicians, Look to Your Own “Horrendous Impact” on Energy Prices

When the energy market forces National Grid to increase its rates, politicians condemn the company, but expensive energy is a problem to which they’ve happily contributed.


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Gambling

RI’s Bad Decisions and Burning Money Instead of Tobacco

My op-ed in today’s Providence Journal places the match of Rhode Island’s experience of the tobacco settlement money (a one-time-fix turned bad debt) on the pile of bad decisions that the state government has made in the past decade or so:

According to a review by ProPublica, Rhode Island has just refinanced some of the resulting debt, with the expectation that “the deal would shave $700 million off a $2.8 billion tab due on the bonds in 2052.” In that regard, it’s a bit like the state’s pension reform, which was marketed as salvation but merely shaved about $3 billion from $9 billion of unfunded liability.

The people who operate Rhode Island’s government are racking up quite a list of these liabilities.


Beware Statists in Libertarian Clothing

Some libertarians have been encouraged to see the liberalization of laws on social issues, but they should go beyond the cliché that politics makes strange bedfellows and wonder why they have the company they do.


Betting the House for Rhode Island

Legislation submitted last week would allow people to gamble their assets (such as houses and investment accounts) at the new state-run casino.


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General Assembly

Coming up in Committee: The Top Three Sets of Bills to be Heard by the RI General Assembly, March 31 – April 2


The top 3 issue areas being heard by the Rhode Island General Assembly deserve their own post…

1A. H5704: Allows Rhode Islanders to buy insurance policies provided by out-of-state insurers, “provided that the insurer conforms to requirements imposed upon insurers licensed to do business in this state”. (H Corporations; Tue, Mar 31)

1B. Bud. Art. 28: Allows the secretary of Health and Human Services to directly impose taxes on the sale of small employer and individual health plans without General Assembly approval, with revenues earmarked for the Rhode Island health benefits exchange. (S Finance; Wed, Apr 1)

1C. H5597: Government takeover of the siting and management of health provider networks in Rhode Island, giving the state health commissioner authority in such areas as hours of operation, staffing placement, criteria for evaluating doctor performance, approval of contract terms between health insurers and providers, etc. (H Corporations; Tue, Mar 31)

2A. H5845: Requires that Rhode Island students be able to opt-out of “the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers (‘PARCC’) assessment”. (H Health, Education and Welfare; Wed, Apr 1) Given that there is no time-limit on this bill, it basically assumes that a standardized test will never be a graduation requirement for Rhode Island public schools.

2B. Meanwhile, H5814 asks (via a non-binding resolution) for the Department of Education “to require all Rhode Island school districts to submit each district’s minimum high school graduation requirements” . (H Health, Education and Welfare; Wed, Apr 1). The resolution begins by saying “in 1999, in his State of the Union Address, former President Clinton stated ‘No child should graduate from high school with a diploma he or she can’t read'” — but will this General Assembly ever allow the state to make a direct assessment of whether students can read a part of earning their diplomas?

3. H5688: Requires that assigning students to Mayoral Academies be done by a random lottery involving all students in a participating district, with selected students able to opt out if they so choose. (H Health, Education and Welfare; Wed, Apr 1) I’m not sure what’s worse about this bill: the conscious lengths that progressive education reform opponents go to to show that they believe that government and not families should control the lives of children, or the unconscious bias amongst progressive education reform opponents it reveals, that life is just a big lottery that education cannot change..


Coming up in Committee: Bill Sets 4 thru 35 to be Heard by the RI General Assembly, March 31 – April 2


4. H5631: Allows individuals who have property confiscated as part of a civil forfeiture proceeding to “seek a court determination as to whether the forfeiture is disproportionately excessive to the gravity of the offense giving rise to the forfeiture”. (H Judiciary; Tue, Mar 31)

5A. H5610: Mandates that the Department of Public Safety begin “to implement an electronic automobile and commercial vehicle liability insurance confirmation and compliance system” that includes “an automatic license plate recognition system to electronically capture license plate images in two seconds or less and noninvasively attempt verification of the insurance and when possible, the registration status of the vehicle”. (H Finance; Wed, Apr 1)

5B. H5606: Requires that applicants for operators and chauffeur licenses have a valid social security number. (H Finance; Wed, Apr 1) It will be interesting to see how many legislators end up taking the position that requiring social security numbers for operators and chauffeur’s licenses is unreasonable, while supporting an electronic system that is supposed to watch every automobile in the state.

6. H5495: Minimum-manning for social workers at public schools, one per 400 students. (H Health, Education and Welfare; Wed, Apr 1)

7. H5961: Unambiguously establishes that holding a seat on the Cumberland Fire District board is holding public office — and that “members shall hold no other public office”. (H Judiciary; Wed, Apr 1) I understand and agree with the spirit of this bill: it’s crazy that here in Rhode Island, we pretend that there’s ambiguity about whether Fire Districts are part of the government or not. However, 1) a bill like this shouldn’t be confined to one community and 2) the authors of the bill need to carefully review the law in this area, to make sure there aren’t potential problems (legal and ethical) with burdening Cumberland Fire District Board members more than other local officials.


Amazon: Failure to Lure or RI Out of the Question?

Nobody’s mentioned it, but the decision of Amazon.com to place a major distribution center in Fall River (rather than Rhode Island) may be a ripple of consequence from the General Assembly’s 2009 attempt to grab money from the company’s sales.


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Government

Keable-entering and the Law, as Written

The plain language of Rhode Island law suggests that Rep. Cale Keable might face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years for breaking and entering, but that fact creates incentive for law enforcement to find him innocent prior to prosecution.


Coming up in Committee, Tuesday, February 3: House Rules for 2015-2016


2. H5258: Rules for the 2015-2016 Rhode Island House of Representatives. (H Rules; Tue, Feb 3)

There are at least three major changes of note:

  • A change to rule 12(f) makes clear that a vote to hold a bill for further study sends the bill to the Phantom Zone, where rank-and-file legislators are powerless to recall it, and only the super-powers of House leadership can bring it back.
  • A change to rule 12(a) gives House leadership the power to deny a hearing to a bill, according to a subjective criteria that “the issues presented…are substantially similar to those matters already heard”.
  • A change to rule 12(e) gives committee chairs, with approval of the Speaker, the power to cancel a bill hearing “at any time…[if] the bill is not ready to be heard in the committee”.

Gary Morse: PolitiFact RI Wrong on Stenhouse Statement

The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development is very concerned about fairness, and its definition falls within Mike Stenhouse’s characterization of it.


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Governor

Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


Governor Raimondo’s “Blank Check”

How could a proposed new statewide property tax that’s been given a nickname homage to a part-time-resident pop star not have a parody song?


Raimondo’s Outrageous Statewide Property Tax Actually an Attack on Property Rights

Raimondo’s “statewide property tax” isn’t a tax on property at all, but a tax on “privilege,” which means she thinks the government grants it. That’s an extremely dangerous principle to accept, even if it’s limited (at first) only to “the rich.”


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Healthcare

UPDATED: Gruber’s Brief Dealings with HealthSource RI

A contract and correspondence with MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber show that HealthSource RI cut his project short and used earlier estimates that he had called “rough.”


UPDATED: Jonathan Gruber Behind Flawed HealthSource RI Projections

Jonathan Gruber’s remarks about the “stupidity of the American voter” have revealed the deception behind ObamaCare, and his involvement in the planning process for HealthSource RI raises the question of how pervasive his attitude has been among government agents locally.


RI’s Bad Decisions and Burning Money Instead of Tobacco

My op-ed in today’s Providence Journal places the match of Rhode Island’s experience of the tobacco settlement money (a one-time-fix turned bad debt) on the pile of bad decisions that the state government has made in the past decade or so:

According to a review by ProPublica, Rhode Island has just refinanced some of the resulting debt, with the expectation that “the deal would shave $700 million off a $2.8 billion tab due on the bonds in 2052.” In that regard, it’s a bit like the state’s pension reform, which was marketed as salvation but merely shaved about $3 billion from $9 billion of unfunded liability.

The people who operate Rhode Island’s government are racking up quite a list of these liabilities.


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History

The World the West is Creating with Vladimir Putin


Is there a better way than political authoritarianism and stunted economic growth that Vladimir Putin’s subjects (including high-ranking oligarchs) might want to consider? Western elites might not like to admit this, but ratcheting up an “uncivilized” tribal strategy may be an effective way for Putin and current Russian leadership to answer this question in the negative, by boosting the morale (at least in the short term) of his Russian followers, and by frightening an “internationalist” coalition away from being willing to take the steps necessary to slow his expansion.

The ultimate effectiveness of this strategy depends on the strength and the nature of the coherence of the adversary that Russia faces.


Immigrant Children as Political Chips

Progressive historians will one day attribute the Obama Administration-facilitated humanitarian crisis on the border to the racist evils of the United States.


Dorr Was Cool, Until He Wasn’t

Steve Ahlquist has published a portion of the testimony he will be giving in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Senate Bill 2641, which is an attempt to revoke Rhode Island’s current Voter ID law. Calling upon the memory of “Governor” Thomas Dorr, Ahlquist writes: Arguably, next to Roger Williams, no Rhode Islander has […]


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Immigration

Steve Ahlquist, the Oppressors’ Heir

In attacking Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, Steve Ahlquist gives reason to believe he’d have been a different kind of oppressor in a different time.


10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 37 (WJAR Gubernatorial Debates & Immigration)

Justin and Bob Plain discuss the first Republican and Democrat gubernatorial debates on Channel 10, WJAR, with some emphasis on the illegal immigration crisis.


Illegal Aliens and RI Social Programs: Qualifying Documentation Ranges from Strong to Alarmingly Weak

… In response to an inquiry from Ocean State Current-Anchor Rising, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services sent over several documents. One of those listed all of the documents that an applicant for social services can submit to verify citizenship qualification for those benefits.


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Infrastructure

Politicians, Look to Your Own “Horrendous Impact” on Energy Prices

When the energy market forces National Grid to increase its rates, politicians condemn the company, but expensive energy is a problem to which they’ve happily contributed.


RhodeMap Brings Eminent Domain One Step Closer

Analysis of the state law purporting to protect Rhode Islanders from eminent domain suggests that RhodeMap RI makes government takings significantly easier.


RI’s Bad Decisions and Burning Money Instead of Tobacco

My op-ed in today’s Providence Journal places the match of Rhode Island’s experience of the tobacco settlement money (a one-time-fix turned bad debt) on the pile of bad decisions that the state government has made in the past decade or so:

According to a review by ProPublica, Rhode Island has just refinanced some of the resulting debt, with the expectation that “the deal would shave $700 million off a $2.8 billion tab due on the bonds in 2052.” In that regard, it’s a bit like the state’s pension reform, which was marketed as salvation but merely shaved about $3 billion from $9 billion of unfunded liability.

The people who operate Rhode Island’s government are racking up quite a list of these liabilities.


Back to top



Legislation

Amazon: Failure to Lure or RI Out of the Question?

Nobody’s mentioned it, but the decision of Amazon.com to place a major distribution center in Fall River (rather than Rhode Island) may be a ripple of consequence from the General Assembly’s 2009 attempt to grab money from the company’s sales.


Governor Raimondo’s “Blank Check”

How could a proposed new statewide property tax that’s been given a nickname homage to a part-time-resident pop star not have a parody song?


Raimondo’s Outrageous Statewide Property Tax Actually an Attack on Property Rights

Raimondo’s “statewide property tax” isn’t a tax on property at all, but a tax on “privilege,” which means she thinks the government grants it. That’s an extremely dangerous principle to accept, even if it’s limited (at first) only to “the rich.”


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Media

“National Grid sells renewable energy at a profit; customers get credit.” FALSE

Providence Journal environmental reporter Alex Kuffner suggests that National Grid expects to make a profit on its renewable energy and give ratepayers a credit. We rate that False.


Gary Morse: PolitiFact RI Wrong on Stenhouse Statement

The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development is very concerned about fairness, and its definition falls within Mike Stenhouse’s characterization of it.


About the Journal’s Endorsements

The Providence Journal said they want change. I think they missed a great opportunity to advocate for change in at least one of their endorsements.


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Musings & Announcements

Friday Night Beer: Troegs Troegenator

The Troegenator Doublebock blends alcohol and flavor for an experience of sweet associations.


Friday Night Beer: Troegs Hop Knife Harvest Ale

Troegs’s Hop Knife Harvest Ale accomplishes what a “harvest ale” ought to accomplish: it brings to mind an agricultural past and a sense of heritage.


Friday Night Beer: Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Black IPA

Sometimes a beer just fits a dark New England evening, with heavy music on the speakers and a heavy meal on the plate.


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National Security

The World the West is Creating with Vladimir Putin


Is there a better way than political authoritarianism and stunted economic growth that Vladimir Putin’s subjects (including high-ranking oligarchs) might want to consider? Western elites might not like to admit this, but ratcheting up an “uncivilized” tribal strategy may be an effective way for Putin and current Russian leadership to answer this question in the negative, by boosting the morale (at least in the short term) of his Russian followers, and by frightening an “internationalist” coalition away from being willing to take the steps necessary to slow his expansion.

The ultimate effectiveness of this strategy depends on the strength and the nature of the coherence of the adversary that Russia faces.


Watching the President from the Other Side

Many among the conservative commentariate have quickly gotten past their brief flirtation with “I told you so” and are moving toward a tone of slow, aching disconcertment.


Government United in Surveillance, People Divided

An opportunity for unified action by all Americans looks likely to be thwarted by the discord that the government and political agents have sowed.


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On a Lighter Note

Friday Night Beer: Ommegang Valar Morghulis

A dubbel ale by Ommegang offers enjoyable flavor with mild buzz and a tie-in to the world of fantasy novels.


My Non-Epic Soccer Post


I’ll side with the Ancient Romans over Ann Coulter, but soccer’s powers-that-be should really lighten up on the substitution rules.


$5,000 – or .000022 – Worth of Sunday Morning Grins & Giggles Courtesy PolitiFact RI

On a personal note, I’d like to sincerely thank PolitiFact RI for starting my day with a big smile this morning, though perhaps they would not be altogether pleased at the reason.

In today’s Providence Journal, they’ve rated a statement by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity (hereinafter “the Center”) pertaining to the $224.5 million in wasteful spending identified by the Center in the governor’s proposed 2015 budget. PolitiFact is not questioning that the state gave away the $5,000 example offered by the Center of an expenditure item in the Governor’s Workforce Board from a prior year. PolitiFact is only saying that the Center did not fully explain what the $5,000 in hard earned taxpayer dollars was spent on.


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Pensions

Retiree Liability and What You Owe

If the people of Rhode Island are going to come to grips with their pension and OPEB problem, journalists (and their editors) are going to have to figure out how the math works.


Coalition Radio Introduces Three Fiscal Topics into the 2014 Campaign


Issue 1: Do any candidates for Rhode Island Governor or Rhode Island General Assembly support modifying or repealing Governor Chafee’s Wall-Street-first law regarding municipal priorities?

Issue 2: Will any of the candidates for Governor of Rhode Island have their fiscal staffs look immediately into the possibility of a Providence receivership. Will they tell us if they do?

Issue 3: Buddy Cianci, according to some research done by Michael Riley, once advocated for pension obligation bonds to help finance Providence’s pension system. Might he do so again?


A Public-Sector Sense of Unfairness

A retired teacher and Providence Journal contributor thinks pension reform gave her a raw deal. Looking at the numbers, it’s difficult to see her deal as a public employee as anything short of spectacular.


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Political Theory

Raimondo’s Outrageous Statewide Property Tax Actually an Attack on Property Rights

Raimondo’s “statewide property tax” isn’t a tax on property at all, but a tax on “privilege,” which means she thinks the government grants it. That’s an extremely dangerous principle to accept, even if it’s limited (at first) only to “the rich.”


Correctly Identifying the Problem of Government for the Elites

Evidence that “the wealthy” have disproportionate influence in politics requires correct assessment, because campaign finance rules could exacerbate the problem.


The Racist, Oppressive Progressives

Progressivism is a recipe for a new aristocracy, relying on distractions about racism and abstract bogeymen in order to herd us all into boxes.


Back to top



Politics

Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


Home-Alone Minor Films House Judiciary Chairman Forcibly Opening Apartment Entry Door

Representative Cale Keable, a landlord with properties in Mapleville, is seen in an online video forcibly opening an entry door, despite the request of the tenant’s minor son for him to return when his mother is home.


Minimum Wage and Raimondo’s Plan to Risk Jobs for Politics

When looked at more closely, even the data promoted by minimum-wage-increase supporters suggests that it would kill jobs.


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Sports

Shut Down the NCAA

The NCAA handed down a one half of one game suspension for current Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for taking money for autographs. However, they have a bit of a history with giving out much longer suspensions for lesser offenses. It’s time to shut down the NCAA.


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Taxation

Amazon: Failure to Lure or RI Out of the Question?

Nobody’s mentioned it, but the decision of Amazon.com to place a major distribution center in Fall River (rather than Rhode Island) may be a ripple of consequence from the General Assembly’s 2009 attempt to grab money from the company’s sales.


Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


Governor Raimondo’s “Blank Check”

How could a proposed new statewide property tax that’s been given a nickname homage to a part-time-resident pop star not have a parody song?


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Unions

Some of the Larger, Seriously Ill-Advised Items In the Governor’s (What Kind of) “Jobs Budget”

During the days following its release, reporters, analysts and observers worked to unpack the budget that Governor Raimondo sent to the General Assembly — and found some unpleasant items therein. Here is a bullet list of some of the bigger ones.

Proposed Statewide Property Tax

… aka, the Taylor Swift tax.

Justin got clarification from Governor Raimondo’s office that the INTENT is not to include apartment buildings as properties to be taxed. This conforms to Governor Raimondo’s attempt to sell this tax as having only a narrow list of targeted properties. (So, gosh, don’t worry about it. And, anyways, we only want to tax those icky rich people.)

Intent, however, is completely secondary. If this tax passes into law, the door will be opened wide for future – and current! – governors and General Assemblies to tax apartment buildings (of all classes and sizes); commercial buildings; second homes of less than one million dollars; PRIMARY homes of more than one million dollars; primary homes of $750,000 – $1,000,000; et empty state cetera. The critical issue is not that the initial list of targeted properties is short. It’s that the list comes to exist at all. To subject just one property classification to a new, statewide tax would set the precedent to subject virtually all real estate in Rhode Island to a statewide property tax via an easy tweak of the targeted property list.

In a perfect bit of timing, RIPEC released an analysis right before the governor released her budget of just how much Rhode Islanders are already taxed. By one measure, Rhode Island already has the fourth highest property taxes in the country. The governor is seriously proposing to raise that ranking? In fact, the one thing above all that our elected officials should not do is exacerbate this burden.

Further, there’s the matter of Rhode Island’s already undesirable reputation as a high tax state. On Twitter, Gary Sasse correctly asks,

When Tax Foundation.et. al.rank tax climate will new statewide property tax impact rankings w resulting reputation risks?

Further to “reputation risks”, WPRO’s Gene Valicenti pointed out Friday morning that the governor’s mere proposal has made the national news via the AP’s feed. This is exactly the kind of publicity that Rhode Island needs to avoid, not curry.

Governor Raimondo’s Proposed Statewide Property Tax Redefines Ownership of Real Estate as a Privilege

This one was a great catch by Justin.


Correctly Identifying the Problem of Government for the Elites

Evidence that “the wealthy” have disproportionate influence in politics requires correct assessment, because campaign finance rules could exacerbate the problem.


Nation-Leading Teacher Pay… and the Constitutional Convention

With Rhode Island leading the nation in government-school teacher pay, it isn’t surprising that the union would court gun-rights advocates to kill a constitutional convention.


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Welfare

Gary Morse: PolitiFact RI Wrong on Stenhouse Statement

The Dept. of Housing and Urban Development is very concerned about fairness, and its definition falls within Mike Stenhouse’s characterization of it.


SNAP Data Sings the Rhode Island Tune

Month-to-month trends of SNAP beneficiaries in Rhode Island and across the country show another way that Rhode Island is unique and reinforces a theory of decline that seems to fit every picture in the Ocean State.


RI’s Bad Decisions and Burning Money Instead of Tobacco

My op-ed in today’s Providence Journal places the match of Rhode Island’s experience of the tobacco settlement money (a one-time-fix turned bad debt) on the pile of bad decisions that the state government has made in the past decade or so:

According to a review by ProPublica, Rhode Island has just refinanced some of the resulting debt, with the expectation that “the deal would shave $700 million off a $2.8 billion tab due on the bonds in 2052.” In that regard, it’s a bit like the state’s pension reform, which was marketed as salvation but merely shaved about $3 billion from $9 billion of unfunded liability.

The people who operate Rhode Island’s government are racking up quite a list of these liabilities.


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