The 2016 Rhode Island General Assembly Freedom Index

It is a result of the failed status quo of increased government intervention in our personal and business lives that the Ocean State ranks so poorly on so many national indexes. It is not acceptable that we rank 50th with the worst business climate in the nation, 48th on the national Family Prosperity Index, and 47th on the Center’s Jobs & Opportunity Index. It is up to voters to review all the data, and decide whether or not to hold lawmakers accountable for their voting records this November. This trend is exemplified by continued deeply negative overall General Assembly scores on our 2016 Freedom Index.

Loaded with information that will be useful to voters this fall, the Freedom Index is part of our larger transparency initiative. The index examines legislators’ votes in terms of their likely effect on the freedom in the Ocean State. Overall, the General Assembly as a body scored a negative (-54.1), continuing its five-year trend deep in red numbers, meaning Rhode Islanders have less freedom than they did last year. Rhode Island families deserve more than these bad results brought to you by the political machine. The insider thinking moved the Ocean state in the wrong direction yet again in the last General Assembly session.

However, there is a reason to be hopeful. As a result of our new 2016 policy to post online real-time bill ranking and lawmaker scores, the Center was successful in proactively influencing future votes as opposed to just a reactive scoring of past votes. This can be seen by the fact that a number of lawmakers who followed the Center’s recommendations scored in positive territory in 2016, after years of almost no lawmakers scoring above zero. By paying attention and holding lawmakers accountable for their votes, you can change the status quo in Rhode Island.

Rhode Islanders have had enough of the insider machine. It is time to make a complete turnaround from these poor scores. We must adopt the free market reforms that can make our state a place where our families can be prosperous. You are powerful. You do not have to tolerate the cronyism and elitist attitude any longer. Don’t be on the sidelines. The rigged system in the Ocean State has kept too many people out of the process. Now is the time for you to speak out and demand that your legislator does more to make Rhode Island a place where our families can achieve their hopes and dreams.

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