More Holes to See Their Real Priorities
A recent op-ed by House Finance Committee Chairman Steven Costantino (D, what else) further illustrates the game playing that our legislators apparently intend to perform instead of fixing Rhode Island’s deep and structural problems:
RHODE ISLAND’S fiscal crisis is also our moment of opportunity. By finding ways to make our tax dollars go further, we can save money, keep taxes under control and provide better services.
I am proposing one way: the creation of a single, consolidated state Office of Health and Human Services, replacing and eliminating five separate departments that together cost over $2.7 billion annually and that are locked by their very structures into chronic operational inefficiency.
Sounds good so far, no? Unfortunately, he goes on:
The structural deficit threatens our ability to grow and to provide critical services. Raising taxes would risk putting further drag on our economy; cutting jobs and services will make the people who need them most suffer. Pitting our financial obligations against our moral obligations is a recipe for failure.
Yup. Mr. Costantino (or is it “cost-a-ton-o”?) hopes to “eliminate five separate, independent departments” without cutting jobs. He cites Gov. Carcieri’s “fiscal-fitness” strategy as providing a “mere” baseline of $10 million annual savings, compared with Costantino’s proposal, which “goes even further.” But the text related to consolidation for the governor’s program strongly implies (at the least) a reduction in workforce. Jobs can be redundant, too, and workers are expensive.
It appears that the General Assembly is going to attempt to sell its stick-it-to-the-public solution as some sort of balance against our supposed “moral obligation” to continue funding unproductive lives and inefficient workers. They may not understand that they also have a moral obligation to improve the health of our state, but they’ll have no choice but to learn as their bad medicine only makes the symptoms worse.