Once More, With Feeling: RI Government Must Shrink

John Kostrzewa notes what is likely just the baseline for actual results:

All of the recent turmoil is the result of Rhode Island’s anemic economy and plans to close state budget deficits of $219 million for the year that ends June 30 and $427 million for the year that follows ..
The report shows the state’s budget deficits for the coming years that end June 30 are forecast to be $362.2 million in 2012, $416.2 million in 2013, $457.8 million in 2014 and $535.7 million in 2015.

If the state government doesn’t take dramatic steps to rework its functioning, I suspect those numbers are going to look like wishful thinking. Kostrzewa insists that entitlements and social services spending have to be cut back, and he’s right. He’s also right that cities and towns have to “redirect some of the energy they are putting into whining about state aid cuts to restructuring their governments,” and the state will have to lighten the burdens it places on municipalities and school districts.
The only difference I have with Kostrzewa comes with this:

The tools [that the state should supply the cities and towns] range from changes to municipal pensions and minimum manning provisions, to municipal health insurance cost sharing and a uniform public school employee health care benefits program. Other proposals include eliminating mandates for school bus monitors and the requirement that school nurses be certified teachers.

My view is that the state should eliminate mandates, not reverse their direction. In other words, the General Assembly should provide relief from itself, but not impose terms on contracts, even if any economically literate resident would prefer those terms. Let residents get involved and rebuild their local governments on their own impetus; otherwise, the focus of activism for special interest will just shift away from towns, and they’ll place even more emphasis on dominating the State House, which will be more difficult to reach from the grass roots.

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Rasputin
Rasputin
11 years ago

Justin,
I ask this with not one bit of sarcasm: has the grass roots movement, in your opinion been successful in your own home town. I know that you, and a dedicated group of folks have put a lot of hard work into trying to effect change there, but has it worked.

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Justin,
In Hawaii public schools are free.
If the parents elect to send their children to public school it is up to the parents to get their children to school on time and safely home after school.
The public transit system has discounted yearly student bus passes if the family elects to use the public system for the child’s transportation.
If the parents elect to use the school bus system they must pay $0.75 one-way fare or $1.50 round trip. There are no free school busses in Hawaii.
This is where the RI cities and towns can save millions of dollars.

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