Will Ricci: East Providence GOP Puts Its State Reps “On Notice”

The following resolution was passed by unanimous vote of the East Providence Republican City Committee at its meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2009. Copies of this resolution will be mailed to all state senators and representatives in East Providence.
The East Providence Republican City Committee strongly condemns the fiscally irresponsible and grossly short-sighted actions of East Providence’s two State Senators, Daniel DaPonte and Frank DeVall, for their recent votes in support of Rhode Island State Senate Bill 0713, “An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations — Certified School Teachers Arbitration.”
S-0713, if enacted, would change the law so that the terms of any expired teacher contract in Rhode Island would remain in effect until a new collective bargaining agreement had been ratified. This may seem harmless or even helpful to some, but in fact, it is uniquely dangerous. This legislation would give already very powerful public sector unions even more power to wield over us. It would strip away one of the very few weapons which school committees in Rhode Island have left at their disposal to try to curb out-of-control spending in the face of massive budget deficits. It would specifically give teachers unions throughout the state, the ability to effectively extend their contracts indefinitely, with absolutely no incentive or need to ever renegotiate new terms when their contract is up for renewal — at levels which may be more reasonable for struggling taxpayers.
The effect on local taxpayers and homeowners would truly be disastrous. Given the favorable nature of many current contracts, the unions could run forever with those contracts without local governments having any ability to modify the terms, even after the contracts have “run out” — leaving the only truly viable alternative to be municipal bankruptcy. Without the ability to rein in costly contracts, which account for most city spending and the overwhelming majority of the school department budget (87% in East Providence), the impact of this bill on residents may well include any or all of the following: massive annual property tax increases; mass layoffs of teachers, administrators, and municipal employees; multiple school closures; reduction or elimination of school sports and after school programs; and finally, the very real possibility of bankruptcy. This is “a clear and present danger” to the fiscal health of our city. For the sake of our city, we must not let this happen!
According to S-0713 co-sponsor Sen. Charles Levesque (D-Bristol/Portsmouth), the introduction of the bill was prompted by the contract stalemate between the East Providence School Committee and the East Providence Education Association. As a result of the teachers union’s unwillingness to make fair and reasonable concessions after their extremely generous contract expired last October — in an attempt to put a dent into the school department’s over $9 million anticipated budget deficit — the School Committee was forced to unilaterally implement a 5% pay raise rollback and enforce a 20% health insurance co-pay and other cost savings measures. This action alone has already saved the taxpayers of East Providence over $3 million so far; thus averting a roughly 10% property tax increase (about $300) for the average East Providence homeowner.
In light of this, we are particularly disturbed that freshman East Providence State Sen. Frank DeVall (Dist. 18) not only voted “in favor” of this fiscally irresponsible bill, but according to official records, even “seconded” passage of S-0713. Additionally, he spoke in favor of S-0713 right from the Senate floor! What a disgrace!
As S-0713 has now been sent to the Rhode Island House for consideration, we strongly encourage residents to immediately contact their state representatives to urge the defeat of its House companion bill, H-5762. Furthermore, the East Providence Republican City Committee hereby puts any and all state representatives in East Providence — regardless of political affiliation — ON NOTICE. A vote in favor of H-5762, will rightfully be considered to be a vote against the taxpayers of the City of East Providence and the people of the State of Rhode Island. As such, we will make it our goal to target for political elimination any East Providence legislator in the 2010 election cycle who votes in favor of this dangerous legislation. WE ARE WATCHING YOU.
Robert S. Carlin, Jr.
Chairman, East Providence Republican City Committee
Media Contact: Bob Carlin at chair@epgop.org
Will Ricci is Treasurer of the East Providence Republican City Committee, a member of the Executive Committee of the Rhode Island Republican Party, and Editor of The Ocean State Republican blog.

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