Favor Factory Skullduggery
I’m of the opinion that Rhode Island doesn’t need to spend any public dollars on economic expansion — unless you’re one of those who calls it “spending” when the government doesn’t take as much from other people’s earnings. Cut taxes; eliminate mandates; lighten regulations. Even from that position, though, it seems as if there must be something more to this:
Over the strenuous objections from some Republicans, the House approved the creation of a $125-million state-backed loan-guarantee program within the state’s Economic Development Corporation.
The legislation is aimed at projects that create permanent, full-time jobs that pay at least two-and-a-half times the minimum wage, with priority going to entities that “expand high-wage jobs in knowledge industry growth clusters.”
While it was described by House Finance Chairman Costantino as a jobs-guarantee program, it was denounced by House Minority Leader Watson as a scandal waiting to happen.
“If you don’t want it to be a favor factory, kill the article,” Watson, R-East Greenwich, said. “This is like an attractive nuisance for all sorts of skullduggery.”
Rep. Charlene Lima, D-Cranston, sought disclosure of the “name, and the office, held, by any elected official who contacts the RIEDC in support of a business seeking monies” under a facet of the new program, but the proposal went down 46 to 25.
Of course, “a favor factory” is precisely what the General Assembly wishes to be. What’s the point of being a part-time legislator in New England’s hub of political corruption unless one can transform political clout into economic reward by way of dispensing favors? I’d say that Rhode Islanders will have to keep a close watch on this program, but lawmakers have created such a plentiful field of dark corners that concerned residents are apt to go cross-eyed trying to keep track of questionable activities.