Now There’s an Interesting Idea
Carcieri’s chief budget officer, Rosemary Booth Gallogly, suggested earlier in the week that the administration may have “another alternative if there were a fiscal crisis.”
A provision in Rhode Island law gives the governor emergency power to suspend law during “disaster emergencies.”
Rhode Islanders with anything above an eighth-grade reading level (whether that level is judged according to our standards or, say, Massachusetts’s) might understand that the place to research “a provision in Rhode Island law” would be our state’s General Laws, not its Constitution, and indeed, among the statutes is this definition (emphasis added):
(1) “Disaster” means occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property resulting from any natural or man made cause, including but not limited to: …
(vi) Epidemic; …
(viii) Blight; …
(x) Infestation; …
(xiv) Endangerment of the health, safety, or resources of the people of the state
I’ll leave it to lawyers to discern whether epidemic stupidity, a blight of legislative corruption, and infestation by parasitic moochers apply, but even if the governor must rely on the imminent endangerment of citizens’ resources, it’s at least plausible that a sufficiently reckless and harmful budget passed by the General Assembly this year might entitle the governor to:
Suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business, or the orders, rules, or regulations of any state agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any statute, order, rule, or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency, provided that the suspension of any statute, order, rule or regulation will be limited in duration and scope to the emergency action requiring said suspension.
Of course, the General Assembly “may terminate a state of disaster emergency at any time,” but I’d say it would make for very interesting workplace and dinner-table discussion for Rhode Islanders to consider the description of “what actions are being taken to control the emergency and what action the public should take to protect themselves” that the governor would thereafter be required to produce.
Among the latter class of actions is an option that the NEA-RI’s executive director, Bob Walsh, continues to ignore:
“It’s crazy to tell some of the top earners in Rhode Island, people making millions of dollars a year, that they don’t have to share in this burden,” Walsh said.
Those “top earners” — many making much less than millions of dollars a year — already share a disproportionate amount of the burden that Mr. Walsh has worked so diligently to help foist on the state’s shoulders. And in point of fact, it’s simple truth to tell them “that they don’t have to share in this burden”: They can simply gather up their belongings and assets and leave.