Quick Notes on a Laffey Sighting

I was clicking around last night before Monday Night Football and came across a Public Access show in which Mayor Laffey was being interviewed by an unknown-to-me but seemingly sympathetic host. (It was around 8:45 PM on Cox 13, didn’t catch the name of the show). I watched for about ten minutes and came away with a couple things.
First, he explained that the problem with education spending in the cities and towns of RI, Cranston in particular, is that the Mayors and City Councils have little or no control over the education budgets set by the school committees. Using Cranston as an example, he stated that the education budget consumes 55% of the overall city budget. If the school committe passes a mandated increase in school spending of 8%, the mayor and council would have to cut 11% of the other 45% of the city budget to maintain current spending levels. (These were off the top of his head figures). As I didn’t see the beginning of the explanation, I assume this was one of his explanations as to why property taxes in Cranston and other RI communities continue to rise. At the very least communities want services maintained–never mind cut!–so raising the taxes is the only way to fund the budget.
He also talked of his support for the Voter Initiative because it can be used to circumvent the politicians who don’t work for the people anymore. He alluded to the “my guy is ok, it’s the rest that are bad” attitude by saying that it had to change and RI voters had to take a more holistic approach to state politics. However, though he didn’t say as much, there doesn’t appear to be much chance of that, so the Voter Initiative may be the only way to go. This is also especially true in light of the recent defeat of the Constitutional Convention that would have been a more proper way to deal with government reform. (In an aside, he remarked as to how “for some reason” Common Cause of RI joined with the Unions to defeat the measure…I wonder about that too.)

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