What To Expect In The Upcoming General Assembly

In today’s Nesi’s Notes, Ted discusses an email from NEARI President Larry Purtill that was sent to NEARI members. Mr. Purtill talks about how Governor Chafee “lied” to NEARI during the campaign last year. Similarly, in a recent GoLocalProv article, NEARI executive director Robert Walsh said “I can assure you we received promises in writing.” Personally, I don’t know who to believe between Mr. Walsh and Governor Chafee. If Mr. Walsh were to furnish the document where he claims to have these Chafee promises in writing, I’d certainly give him the nod.
Mr. Purtill shows more distaste and anger for the recently passed pension bill. One thing about the pension bill and especially the 5.5% tax on contractors that I’m still confused by is that the tax was put there to appease the labor side. Then some of the Reps and Senators who look kindly upon the unions, still didn’t vote for the pension bill and labor leaders are still angry about it. So why put in a provision for the benefit of labor when it didn’t get you anything? Usually you give something to get something. Finance chairs Melo and DaPonte gave the 5.5% tax. They didn’t get votes or public support in return.
Later in Nesi’s article, we also see what are NEARI’s priorities for the upcoming General Assembly session.

When the General Assembly reconvenes in January, lawmakers “need to fix this law, pass binding arbitration, and defeat any and all anti-collective bargaining bills,” he said, including any proposals by Education Commissioner Deborah Gist “that impact collective bargaining.”
“And there are no trade-offs here,” Mr. Purtill added. “ALL OF THE ABOVE NEEDS TO HAPPEN!”

So that binding arbitration thing that we’re constantly told by union representatives is to benefit the state and cities? Yeah, it “needs to happen.” People like commenter “Dan” have already explained in depth why binding arbitration is a losing venture for the state, starting with how the arbiters are selected.
One other point that Mr. Purtill talks about is opposing any candidate who voted for this pension bill.

“Lawmakers were told by the treasurer and others that if they didn’t vote for this bill, they wouldn’t be re-elected. Our response was and is, ‘you vote FOR this you won’t be re-elected.’ ”

Though Mr. Purtill may turn out to be correct as the general public has much more voter apathy than his union membership, in this case Treasurer Raimondo was correct that the public supports the pension reform and they/we didn’t want to see it go untouched. We’ll see next November whose threats are more valid.
Lastly, one of Mr. Purtill’s comments did give me a chuckle.

“Democrats believe we have to support them because we have no choice,” Purtill wrote. “WRONG – we do have a choice. In fact, a few more Republicans at the State House might actually force Democrats to start behaving as such.”

For one, I have a really hard time believing that NEARI would support a Republican over a Democrat. I believe that if there was a Democrat not to their liking, they’d first send their own candidate against the Democrat in a primary. If they were unsuccessful there, I find it difficult to think that they’d actually financially support and campaign for a Republican. Second, is there a Republican who would happily accept the help of NEARI? Maybe. Then again, politics does make for very strange bedfellows.

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