Doing Well in the General Assembly
The spin is bad enough:
House Speaker Gordon D. Fox said that while Republicans talk about a need for balance, Democrats can talk about accomplishments — pension reform, a budget deficit that recently turned into a surplus and passage of an education-financing formula, to name a few.
Pension reform has been pitiful and inadequate. The budget deficit turned to a surplus thanks to hundred of millions of dollars from an Obama administration intent on bailing out states and the General Assembly’s ability to pass remaining budget gaps on to cities and towns. The education-financing formula only seems like a major accomplishment because the General Assembly (i.e., the Democrats) was too incompetent to implement it for such a long time… until, of course, it was created and forced through by an education commissioner appointed by Republican/reform figures (particularly Governor Carcieri and Board of Regents member Angus Davis) with the lure of another federal windfall.
What’s worse, though, is that the spin finds partial support in public statements from the governor’s office. From a PR release sent out last week:
A national news crew came visiting Governor Carcieri this week to find out how Rhode Island was able to change colors: from being in the red to being in the black. Even more, they wanted to know how Rhode Island came to be the only state that has been able to reduce spending AND lower the tax rates in these difficult economic times.
The answer really goes back to 2003. Since then, Governor Carcieri, with his staff, department directors, and the General Assembly, has:
- Eliminated the Structural Deficit
The list goes on, but the very first bullet stops you in your tracks with the question: When was the “structural deficit” eliminated? This year’s budget, beyond moving burdens toward the cities and towns, relied on more than a hundred million dollars in one-time federal largess that almost didn’t materialize. Further adjustments are likely to be necessary before the budget year is up. And the tax-rate changes were mainly a numbers shuffle, intended to remain “revenue neutral.”
This strange harmony of message should begin to look suspicious when Fox decides to go for the big lie in the paragraph following the one quoted at the beginning of this post:
“That’s the message, which is that Democrats are in the majority for a reason, because we know what is needed for people to do well,” he said. “We’re delivering.”
We’ve still got unemployment at nearly nation-leading rates. Our students are still facing a criminal deficiency in the education that they’re receiving. We’re the languishing armpit of New England in more ways than one. Just who is “doing well,” Gordon?
I guess we all know the answer to that question.