Newsmakers with Tim White (and Ian Donnis and Arlene Violet) had House Speaker William Murphy on this morning. Here is some of what he had to say (rough transcription, folks).
Ian Donnis mentioned how the RI Legislature has typically been shortsighted–the tobacco money grab–and how that gave the impression that there was no long term planning. Murphy replied that the emphasis has always been on balancing the budget–a short-term item–over long term planning. Now, during a “tough economic time” it’s “easy to make changes.”
Arlene Violet mentioned that cities and towns have come to expect help, and more of it, year after year. Murphy said this year cities and towns are prepared for less because state aid isn’t going to be the same. Wouldn’t commit to repealing the Carullo act, but recognized the difficulty it posed in tandem with the property tax cap.
Ian Donnis mentioned Murphy had cited a goal of growing the RI Economy back in 2007. What’s happened? Murphy said he was disappointed and he thinks the EDC’s biggest failing was in the P.R. He based this on meetings he’s had with businesses who have been “amazed” with what they’ve seen in RI. Mentioned that the overall cost of doing business-specifically cited energy costs–was more in RI.
Donnis said we’d never be as cheap as the South, so what can we do? Murphy reiterated that we as RIers (specifically public officials and the media) have to be more positive about our state. Tim White challenged Murphy on that and asked, don’t we need fundamental changes?
Murphy said we have done this, especially with regards to modifying the tax structure.
White asked about the newly retired state college workers who are collecting a pension and a paycheck by working part time. White also mentioned the 75 day rule that applies for teachers (whereby they can retire and then return to the job 75 days later). Murphy said that we should revisit and that he and many in the House were “taken aback,” His intents is to “close the loophole” as long as doing so doesn’t make another problem.
Arlen Violet asked about a statewide health contract. Murphy said we made some headway last year, but everything is on the table. The opportunity is here to make some changes in preparation for when we come out of this recession.
Donnis asked about tax credits (specifically movies). Murphy cited the historical tax credit and that it had done wonders, though it needed to be tweaked. RIers benefited from the jobs created and abandoned property has been put on the rolls. Supported the movie tax credit and thinks it brings jobs to RI. Donnis asked for hard numbers and Murphy referred to Steve Feinberg. Donnis wouldn’t settle for that, but Murphy could only say that he knows they’re working on it and that the National Governors Organization supports such a program and also cited Massachusetts. (He wasn’t comfortable with this line of questioning).
Tim White asked about the pension commission and asked if there is any progress. Murphy said the report is coming…