Fighting the Mandates
A quick skim of Rhode Island’s General Laws didn’t reveal anything to contradict what Providence fire fighter union head Paul Doughty says, here, although through the finger pointing and blame shifting of Rhode Island politics, the perception that he’s incorrect is probably widespread:
“There’s no requirement in state law, in state rules, or anywhere that says there needs to be a certain number of firefighters on a fire truck,” said Providence Firefighter Paul A. Doughty, president of Local 799 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “It becomes a necessity that we put these terms in our contract.”
Whatever the lay of the law, Doughty does point toward an important distinction. Rhode Island must begin dismantling the mandates that ensure high costs for towns and businesses alike, but we shouldn’t install negative mandates (“towns cannot…”) as a remedy. Where a mandate is a matter of state law, it should be scrapped. Where it’s a matter of local charter and contractual agreement at the municipal level, voters need to get to work, and if property taxes increase, it’s a matter to address with the mayor and/or the town council, not the governor and/or the General Assembly.