In the wake of business leaders explaining that they are “wary of heavily unionized states” like Rhode Island (like it or not, that’s the perception, folks) and the new report from RIPEC explaining that State-level mandates are damaging to Rhode Island’s cities and towns and economic development, Rep. Joe Trillo (R-Warwick) offers up his own 6-point plan:
To return to prosperity, some fundamental changes must be embraced and supported by taxpayers and politicians alike.
First, to lower both municipal and state operating expenses, public-employee unions must be held at bay and their interests must be placed second to the greater interests of the state, its cities and towns and the taxpayers.
Second, there must be some regionalization of services, including but not limited to police, fire, schools and highway departments, while still preserving the individual identities of each of the cities and towns.
Third, Rhode Island, which is currently at a competitive disadvantage with our neighboring states, must make its tax burden the lowest in New England, so as to appeal to business and to foster job growth.
Fourth, Rhode Island is in the midst of a financial crisis, and it must begin to operate accordingly. It must function like a business that is in Chapter 11. The General Assembly has the power to provide mayors and city and town managers with the authority to cut costs and make fundamental changes to the labor laws that have favored the unions, but will they have the political courage to do so? Will their constituents demand nothing less?
Fifth, the powers of the many school committees must be reduced. They should not be allowed to negotiate with unions nor should they have the authority to approve school budgets, which in many cases can be up to 80 percent of a city or town budget. Instead, those powers should be vested with mayors, administrators or city and town councils.
Sixth, with all of the above in place, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation should focus its efforts on recruiting companies with well-paying jobs and marketing Rhode Island to them.