The Health of the Legislature

Katherine Gregg has checked in on the latest tally of RI legislators’ voluntary healthcare contributions:

More and more of the state’s 113 legislators have “volunteered” over the years to pay a portion of the premiums for the health, dental and vision benefits they receive, which currently cost the state $19,004 a year for a family plan and $6,800 for individual coverage. …
As of Wednesday of this week, only 6 of the 38 senators, and 7 of the 75 House members had advised the legislative business office that they were willing to pay a 20-percent share of the premiums for their coverage. The majority of those paying a portion pay less.

As I’ve noted, before, I differ from many of my fellow right-reformers in believing that it’s worth considering a change to the General Assembly such that it wouldn’t be prohibitive to those whose careers aren’t flexible or who don’t stand to profit from the disruptive part-time job by much more than their nominal salaries and benefits.
Also in the print edition of the paper (although not online, that I could quickly find) was a table of some of the top Assembly campaign spenders, topping out at $1,021,018 for Steven Constantino (who ran for Providence mayor) and $131,003 for Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, as well as a story about Patrick Lynch’s campaign spending even while he wasn’t campaigning for anything. It’s quite a commitment to hold public office, and a sense of civic responsibility will carry potential candidates so far. Public dollars for public jobs represent a much cleaner deal than a system that relies upon the sideline of special-interest campaign donations and the extra-official perks and income that derive from political connections.
Of course, paying legislators more won’t prevent their continuing to peddle their authority for corrupt benefits, but it will increase the competition for their offices.

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13 years ago

Trust me, you don’t want a state legislature full of career politicians like they have in MA. The only state house I’ve ever seen that is more insulated and screwed up than RI is MA. It’s largely because of the “Do you know who I am?” status that comes with those types of positions. Instead of having bad politicians we can’t get rid of 8-12 years, we’ll have ones we can’t get rid of for 30+ years like MA. It doesn’t stop corruption either, e.g., MA Sen. Diane Wilkerson recently caught on FBI video stuffing bribe cash into her bra. Full-time Boston city councilman Chuck Turner was also recently sent to prison for bribery.
The NH volunteer legislature is the best model – keeps them grounded, reduces campaign entrenchment, requires them to have a real job, and discourages the rulemaking for the sake of rulemaking that always results from full-time positions. A much bigger house (~400 legislators) also works well to keep them accountable to constituents.

13 years ago

Hey, you forgot this interesting part of the story too:
“At this point, only one lawmaker pays nothing toward the cost of the premiums for her family’s health package: Rep. Grace Diaz, a Providence Democrat who is also vice chairwoman of the Democratic State Committee.”

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

Diaz is the proponent of giveaways to illegal aliens in the form of tuition breaks.Why would this surprise anyone?
Maybe she ought to spend the money she saves on English lessons because when I’ve heard her speak,it wasn’t that intelligible.
I’m sure the resident leftist a**holes here will fling crap over this statement,but it’s just true.
I wouldn’t say something like that about Juan Pichardo for instance because his English is a s clear as anyone’s.
Diaz also has a real nasty attitude that reeks of ethnocentric bias.
It’s strange that the investigation of the illegal alien fugitive selling licenses to other alien fugitives out of the Registry didn’t extend to her political connections who may have set her up in that job.
No one gets a job there without some heavy connections.
State civil service in RI is an obscene joke.
I experienced honest and favor free hiring practices,along with total transparency in NY State Civil Service going back to 1971 in my case.I didn’t have to “know” anyone to be hired as a Court officer-took a test,passed a physical,and my name was on a public list.
The only advantages given were for veterans-5 pts and disabled veterans-10 pts.
I’ve never seen a place as crooked as RI when it comes to civil service.
Well,Chicago was about as bad.Not the State of Illionois,but Chicago itself.
NYC by comparison has always had a stright system going back as long as I can recall.
How is it done in Hawaii,Ken?(Just thought I’d ask since your reappearance-I thought maybe you’d been waylaid by a wahine LOL).

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