Rhode Island Republican Party Platform Draft
Anchor Rising has been provided with a draft of the platform document nearing approval by the Rhode Island Republican Party. To be formally adopted, the platform still needs to pass votes of the party’s Executive Committee and then the State Central Committee, and it is possible that some amending could occur at those stages. And with that disclaimer out of the way, we can move immediately to letting the current version of the platform speak for itself…
Rhode Island’s Path from the Wilderness – a Platform for Jobs, Change, and Growth
Preamble – The Republican Party of Rhode Island believes that every American is endowed with the inherent rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We believe that our state must remain anchored by those key principles while developing new and innovative solutions to meet the challenges of the times in which we live.
Rhode Island is today facing the worst economic downturn in over half a century, with unemployment at record levels and the state budget badly out of balance. The national economic situation has been one cause of this, but the severity of the recession in Rhode Island, with over 13% of the working population jobless, can be directly traced to the high tax, union friendly, special interest focused economic policies of the Democratic legislature of the past 15 years.
Rhode Islanders need jobs, now. Rhode Island needs to refashion its economic policies, immediately, to attract businesses to the state, and to encourage existing businesses to invest in new job creation here at home. We need a state budget that is in balance, which has tax policies and rates which are the most competitive in the region.
Rhode Island needs Change, now. Business as usual means the death of our state economy for another generation. We cannot continue to appease union insiders with high taxes, high benefits, and out-of-date government structures when the regular working people of the state are losing jobs and the state its economic vitality. We must take a new path, one which leads out of the wilderness to a state of stable full employment, balanced budgets, and sustainable growth. We must do the following:
Jobs for Rhode Islanders
Rhode Island will see sustainable job growth start only when it is perceived by the business community to be a stable, tax competitive, low cost area in which to locate operations. We must:
- Reduce corporate income taxes to zero as recommended by the Governor’s Tax Study Group in 2009.
- Reduce the personal income tax to no higher than 5% to bring it in line with our neighboring states.
- Eliminate costly and time consuming regulatory hurdles that make our companies uncompetitive.
- Reinvigorate state support of higher education to create a highly qualified workforce.
- Continue to promote research at our local Universities that will lead to good paying jobs in the state.
- Fix our roads and bridges to improve our economic viability.
- Restructure the EDC to support both new and existing businesses.
Cut Spending, Balance the Budget
The Rhode Island governments at all levels must reduce spending, restructure operations, and live within the prudent limits set by our job creating revenue and tax policies. We must:
- Limit public sector wages, benefits, and co-pays to match those in the private sector.
- Reduce out of control state pension costs by moving to a defined contribution retirement plan for all state employees.
- Increase the minimum retirement age for state employees to 63 and eliminate cost of living adjustments (COLA) on pensions.
- Eliminate all unfunded mandates on our cities and towns.
- Oppose automatic contract extension for all public sector employees. All contracts should be fully negotiable on expiration.
- Consolidate state and local municipal and school functions in a common sense way to eliminate unnecessary duplication and cost.
- Bring our welfare benefits in line with neighboring states.
Make Better Health Insurance Options Available to Rhode Islanders
Rhode Islanders will get the best, most affordable healthcare results when competition among insurance providers is maximized, costs are carefully managed, and malpractice legal abuse is curbed. We must:
- Promote competition among multiple health insurance providers to lower costs to RI citizens.
- Ensure continuation of private health plans for any and all individuals, families, and businesses.
- Keep health insurance premiums for individuals and businesses fully deductible for RI Taxes
- Enact medical malpractice reform to reduce costs and improve consumer healthcare choices.
Get Better Results for What We Spend on Public Education
Despite one of the highest per student education expenses in the country, Rhode Island continues to have below average test scores and many underperforming schools. We must:
- Evaluate all teachers using rigorous performance standards and compensate them on a merit basis.
- Give school principals the authority to make teacher assignments primarily on the basis of teacher qualifications and certifications.
- Oppose binding arbitration for teacher contracts.
- Make available to every child in a failing school district a scholarship worth 75% of the cost of their public education.
Preserve and Use our Environmental Resources for Competitive Advantage
Narragansett Bay, our coastal location, and the natural beauty of our state give us great advantages. We must:
- Rapidly develop wind and other cost effective alternative energy sources within Rhode Island to lower the cost of energy to all Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island businesses.
- Develop Quonset as a deep water port to create jobs, promote alternative energy, and create investment for Rhode Island.
- Sustain Narragansett Bay as our most valuable resource for tourism, recreation, and commerce.
Increase Government Accountability at All Levels
Our state government continues to be plagued by anti-democratic concentrations of power and conflicts of interest at all levels. We must:
- End political dynasties in the state by imposing term limits in our general assembly.
- Eliminate the straight party master lever voting option in our elections.
- Strengthen the ethics commission so it can aggressively pursue conflicts of interest in the General Assembly and reduce corruption.
In the long standing tradition of New England Republicans, we respect the right of all of our candidates to hold and express their own considered views on social issues.