Some Different (Not Necessarily Good) Ideas
I don’t know much about Coventry’s Victor Moffitt, who has announced his intention to announce a run for governor as a Republican. Most of his reported ideas represent the sort of reform of which my opinion ranges from suspicious to hostile:
Rhode Island no longer has a surplus, but Moffitt in a brief interview said many of the themes of his campaign for governor will echo his 1998 campaign [for treasurer]. At that time, he proposed eliminating school spending from the local tax burden, establishing a statewide 7 percent flat income tax (which he says would bring in enough new revenue to establish a statewide school-funding financing plan) and breaking the state into four regional school districts. He also wanted to reduce the state sales tax to 6 percent.
Centralizing financial control of the schools: bad idea. Increasing taxes for most Rhode Islanders: worse idea. On the other hand, the article offers an intriguing glimpse of rhetoric from Moffitt’s past:
In response to news that the state had logged a $132-million surplus in 1998, for example, he wrote: “A ‘surplus’ is created when taxpayers are overtaxed … Every 1 percentage point of the Rhode Island sales tax represents about $70 million in state revenue. Therefore, we should reduce the sales tax to 6 percent … to allow our Rhode Island retail businesses fair competition with our neighboring states.”
His general perspective appears to be correct, if his solutions would ultimately exacerbate our problems. My mind, of course, went to the Tiverton school district, which had a quarter-million-dollar surplus this year yet continues to complain that taxpayers “cut” its budget by declining to increase it by an additional $627,000 (or so) in the last budget cycle.