And Just When You Thought Things Couldn’t Get Any Dumber
The Woonsocket Legislative Brain Trust (Jon Brien, Robert Phillips, Lisa-Susan Menard-Baldelli-Hunt) has submitted this wonderful piece of legislation to the Rhode Island General Assembly, apparently as an alternative to the supplemental tax proposed by the Woonsocket City Council…
45-21-67. Application of pension funds to reduce tax levy. – Any city or town, or any municipal agency which controls, or has control of, through a selected financial institution acting as custodian, any municipal pension fund may, in its discretion and notwithstanding the provisions of any general law or municipal charter to the contrary, apply the pension funds or a portion thereof, or direct the custodian to apply the pension funds or a portion thereof, to reduce the overall tax levy of the municipality.That’s the whole bill. It is not an authorization for emergency borrowing to cover a short-term cash flow problem, as was discussed by the City Council on Monday. It authorizes the “application” of money from a pension fund, to provide a one-time property tax fix, with future consequences (probably including lawsuits) not really well-specified.
What’s doubly amazing about this bill is that it comes from a group of Representatives who have been demanding a state-appointed budget commission or receiver for Woonsocket. But does anyone think that state appointed officials, once in charge of a city, are going to say “I know, let’s take money from the pension fund, and use it to lower taxes this year”?
There is a maxim of intelligence analysis that says you should never assume malice when incompetence provides an explanation. Watching the Rhode Island legislature makes one wonder “why choose?” — and folks inclined to view the RI House’s refusal to support a supplemental tax for Woonsocket as an act of fiscal conservatism (you’re wrong) need to think long and hard about the kind of idiocy they’re willing to enable, by supporting the General Assembly’s imposition of its kick-the-can-down-the-road ineptness upon municipal governments willing to do something a little different and a little smarter.