What State Aid Does

It’s difficult to care — in the midst of a major recession, with unemployment at its current level and the state government in perpetual deficit — about political sniping about who told whom what when, but a statement in such an article begs for correction (emphasis added):

RHODE ISLAND GOVERNMENT funnels one-third of its $3-billion “general revenue” budget to municipalities and school districts.
The vast majority goes to schools.
The state budget Carcieri signed in June designates $187 million for municipal governments, a figure that includes “restricted accounts,” such as money that must go to local library construction. And local school districts were set to receive $890 million, including funding for charter schools and the state-managed Central Falls school system.
The funding stream helps keep local taxes at bay.

No. What the funding stream does is to help keep local spending — especially on labor — up. The evidence is in the items that Governor Carcieri is suggesting as compensation for cuts to aid, most of which entail lightening the contractual burden on municipalities. In the long term, less aid from the state would not mean commensurately higher property taxes; it would mean commensurately lower giveaways to unions.

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