The Civics Interview with John Robitaille: “What do you believe are the basic limits on what powers government can acquire over time?”

Question 3 to Republican Party candidate John Robitaille: Much of the history of the 10th Amendment to the US Constitution has been defined by the fact that the Federal government gets to decide the scope of that Amendment and has over time tilted the playing field in favor of claiming more power for itself. Currently, we are seeing in Central Falls an analogous process at the state level where over time the state disregards its own rules with regard to municipalities, so that it can do what it wants, resulting in power being moved away from the local levels of government that are closest to the people. Do you believe there is an actual problem here? What do you believe are the basic limits on what powers government can acquire over time?

Really, if you look at our constitution, it’s the other way around. It’s the people giving power to the government. We’re into basically, I don’t want to say untested waters, but in a way we are, because we are in such extremely difficult times right now… Audio: 45 sec

Regionalization: I’ve come out strong against forcing any regionalization or consolidation on the communities, period. I think we can have incentives, we can look at regionalizing police, fire, schools, if and only if the communities involved voluntarily want to do it. That to me is perhaps almost a defining issue for the powers of the state and the powers of the communities… Audio: 56 sec

As far as the state imposing mandates on cities and towns, I’m against it. I’m against unfunded mandates, I’m against a lot of mandates…That’s why I want to shrink government. I want to shrink government to historical levels, in terms of people programs and policies… Audio: 1m 8 sec

…The constitution should drive everything we do. In the real world, when you start looking at modern times, and how our cities and towns are so interlaced with each other in many ways, from taxes to education funding to healthcare…to say that we’re not an interlaced society in right now in Rhode Island…it’s not the real world.Audio: 45 sec

It’s something that has to evolve. There’s no one answer. I think we have to look at each situation as it comes up, make sure that its constitutional, make sure we protect separation of powers. But to me, if there’s a common sense approach that can be offered to the people of a community, we need a mechanism to be able to do that, and if it’s a local referendum that pops up and says ‘hey, in lieu of bankruptcy, we agree that the state can come in and help us’, then we ought to do that…Audio: 1m 21 sec

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