A handful of hoodie protesters outside the State House, today.
Justin sees a trend for private-school loans, even at the kindergarten level, as an indication of a staggering civic society, not a faddish excess of the 1%.
A Superior Court Ruling in Town of North Kingstown v. North Kingstown School Committee requires the school department to live within its budget but solidifies legal precedent requiring town governments to cover losses in state aid unless the budget makes estimates "expressly contingent" on actual revenue.
Justin writes live from a speech talk by David Carlin on Christianity and Party Politics.
Comparing job loss estimates related to casino gambling with those related to taxing the rich shows that the latter will be four times more destructive than avoiding the former. However, in one case, the government's incentive is in opposition to the workforce's.
In the space of three minutes, the Senate Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs had amended and approved legislation calling for a public vote allowing state-run casino operations in Newport Grand and Twin River without further economic analysis.
Noting a chronological coincidence of Saul Alinsky's influence on teachers' unions and leveling results (with higher expenditures), Justin suggests that reevaluation might be wise
Justin checks out a (warm and uncomfortable) Senate Special Legislation hearing concerning Newport Grand table games.
Justin notes the movement of Newport Grand casino gambling through the General Assembly and suggests that a government-run casino may not benefit the people of Rhode Island.
Reps. Williams and Guthrie opened yesterday's House Labor hearing with an objection to a legislative alert from the Ocean State Tea Party in Action that inferred legislators' opinions on teacher-related issues. Reviewing the transcripts allows readers to decide who is misrepresenting what.
Justin worries that increasing complexity of health insurance arrangements that attempt to factor in patient outcomes take a more dangerous path than just allowing patients to find (and pay for) the doctors who suit them.
Justin writes live and extemporaneously from the House Committee on Labor hearing concerning eVerify.
Step increases for teachers are, indeed, mandated by law, but that does not change them into something other than raises or present the public with a single path forward.
Proposals from North Kingstown school superintendent Philip Auger could change a balance of power that some already see as out of whack.
Justin considers whether a flurry of applicants to Central Falls' Charter Review Commission is evidence that the city can yet avoid the hard lessons of self governance.
Audio of Justin's appearance on the Dan Yorke Show relates to the larger questions of structure and strategy that Rhode Island has to answer.
A study being touted by left-leaning think tanks defines economic health dubiously by leaving out population and workforce growth.
Far from receiving "no raises," the increases in pay of the teaching staff in Woonsocket amount to $4.7 million over the period covered by their current contract.
A weekly roundup of Ocean State Current posts.
A 13-year-old boy set on fire in an apparently racial attack appears not sufficiently interesting for the national media.
Justin finds in an RI Future post by Bob Plain evidence of the rhetorical method of barricading the door to discourse.
Doomsday predictions from Mark Steyn and a new Santorum video will be laughable over-dramatization to some, but stark reality for others.
Unemployment only "ticked" up, this month, but the overall labor force dropped more from December to February than it has since the dot-com bust. Public officials looking for a turnaround should consider the power of their message.
Justin takes the opportunity of a gorgeous afternoon to muse about beauty in ethics.
House Labor Committee Chairwoman Anastasia Williams paused a hearing, on Tuesday, to criticize an email that she had received, but sender William B. Palazzo disputes her description of the content.
Apathy in Central Falls leads Justin to further questions about the long-term wisdom of bailouts and receiverships.
An argument about pension fund discount rates by the Mercatus Center and RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity illustrates the difficulty, and risk, of setting thresholds on the availability of pension reforms.
Technical objections raised to legislation that would give town/city councils authority to ratify employment contracts appear to have been overstated or incorrect.
The Current interviews Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin, part 3 of 3: illegal immigration; perceptions of an oppressive state.
Video of the speeches from the meals tax tea party protest.
Photos from the rally against Governor Chafee's proposed tax increase on meals and beverages.
East Providence High School teacher Keith Anderson is running for the district 29 House seat, from Coventry.
Beware "death with dignity." If we go down that path, in the law, let's do so with open eyes.
The Current interviews Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin, part 2 of 3: no political box; healthcare and political lessons; school choice
Justin writes live and extemporaneously from the House Committee on Labor, addressing teacher layoff notifications, right-to-work for teachers, city/town council approval of school labor contracts, and others.
Mistaking the content implied by a David Brooks headline leads Justin to a stark juxtaposition showing the deadly danger of relativism.
A letter by Providence business owner John Palmieri might provide a good indicator of the problems that Rhode Island fundamentally needs to address.
The Current interviews Roman Catholic Bishop of Providence Thomas Tobin, part 1 of 3: welfare and charity; "a global authority"; solidarity and subsidiarity; giving authority over to the state.
Justin offers Tiverton's experience in the garbage-bag business as evidence of the risky difference between government services and those available on a free market.
Legislation to review healthcare mandates is scheduled for House Corporations Committee review; meanwhile, the local insurers and business interests are forming a group for leverage in the impending healthcare exchange.
BLS data shows real earnings on a slide, nationally, and although RI might be doing slightly better by this marker, it's hardly enough to overcome unemployment problems.
The Providence Journal is pumping up the common wisdom on how to turn RI around, but Justin suspects the project is going in the wrong direction from the start.
A weekly roundup of content from the Ocean State Current.
Justin takes the highlighter and red pen to Governor Chafee's proposal for "municipal reform and relief."
In Justin's view, marriage as a social issue is inevitably bound up with other policies as small-government issues, and in a way that both "economically conservative social liberals" and "big-government traditionalists" ought to consider.
In the past few months, the Department of Environmental Management has purchased land or the development rights for nearly 100 acres of land at a cost just under $1 million.
Justin writes live and off-the-cuff from the House Finance Committee hearing on retirement contributions, dept. director salaries, corrections, board compensation, and holidays.
The 2010 tax reform had winners and losers in every income range. Increasing taxes this year, even if only on wealthier residents, would arguably represent two straight years of tax increases.
Every bit of legislation raising taxes, every apparently corrupt action, contributes to the culture and sense of hopelessness that is driving people away from Rhode Island. Justin argues that that's the first thing that has to change.
Experts disagree about whether the seven legislative proposals to increase personal income taxes on "the rich" will have an adverse effect on Rhode Island's economy, but the complexity of such changes requires a more local debate.
Even with the direct comparison of Chelsea, MA, with Central Falls, Justin finds that Rhode Island learns the wrong lesson.
Justin cites James Lileks' illustration of the absurdity of bureaucratic spending in a down economy.
Rhode Island's unemployment rate fell, from December to January, but the exodus from the labor force has accelerated.
As RI leaders begin to explore the possibility of moving local pension plans in the MERS, the only matter getting any clearer is that there's no simple fix.
Things in Woonsocket seem eerily familiar.
As Mark Patinkin notes, in a Sunday Projo column, the EDC and 38 Studios need to realize that it isn't enough for Rhode Island just to be a place with some buildings in which stuff happens that makes money.
Foreclosure-related legislation illustrates the need for in-depth debate between advocates for and against the proposals. Even those that appear to be common sense may have unintended consequences affecting the public at large.
Educational imbalances and legal bias against boys and men and the corrosion of cultural mores illustrate why small-government, fiscal conservatism requires a dose of social conservatism, as well.
Video of Rep. John Carnevale provoking Warwick School Committee Member Eugene Nadeau during House Labor's hearing on binding arbitration.
The weekly newsletter of posts on the Ocean State Current.
Video of RISC's 2012 Winter Meeting, featuring Central Falls Receiver Robert Flanders, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, Woonsocket Mayor Loe Fontaine, Providence advisor Gary Sasse, and Rep. Larry Ehrhardt.
Justin writes live from the RISC Winter Meeting at the Radisson Hotel.
On a visit to Rhode Island, RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day promises local Republicans tools, access, and optimism, but not money.
Unemployment held at 8.3% in February, indicating stagnation no matter how one slices the numbers.
The insider take is that the General Assembly wants to avoid controversy, after pension reform, but last night's House Labor hearing gave the impression of a different kind of show.
Campaign finance reform legislation currently under review in the RI General Assembly targets large national organizations and companies but has small local groups fearing that their speech (and donations) will be chilled.
Efforts to increase the top tax rate shouldn't be viewed in terms of the current tax system, but the system before the tax reform that is just kicking in. In that case, it represents a massive increase on more than just "the rich."
Local political analyst Tom Sgouros asserts that government ought to be measured against income, rather than in line with other expenses, but it isn't as reasonable a premise as it may at first seem.
Justin writes live from the RI Senate Judiciary hearing, including bills addressing campaign finance and straight-ticket voting.
A labor-friendly senator proposing reform-minded legislation indicates the need for the careful consideration of unintended consequences as Rhode Island shifts the way it does business.
Forty-nine of 50 states participated in legal action against five mortgage banks resulting in a $25 billion settlement. The public should wonder, first, what the banks gained from the settlement and, second, whether the whole process is wise to encourage.
The Star Kids Program, in the East Bay, helps the children that Rhode Island might otherwise leave behind to close the graduation gap.
A Swedish man disabled by his love of heavy metal illustrates how, as community standards are pushed closer and closer to the closed-door home, the police of the public sphere are apt not only to defend, but to subsidize material they like.
Family and voluntary associations (including those defined geographically, like villages) are a necessary source of authority to oppose ever-expanding government.
The General Assembly is considering legislation that would require Department of Transportation preference of "complete street" designs, but it isn't clear that another law on the books is really necessary.
A roundup of the week's posts on the Ocean State Current.
As impossible as it may be to deny the necessary changes in public policy related to the economy and government spending, the will to reform is not strong enough for due speed.
Economic mobility has improved or held steady over the past half-decade, but public perception is otherwise. Arguing hopelessness or dependence may reinforce the trend.
Justin reacts to an initial screening of Stephen Laffey's movie, Fixing America.
A new Tax Foundation study exposes some of the flaws in RI's economic development practices.
National Journal ranking of liberal and conservative legislators points to politics and posturing.