The unexpected twists of the RI House budget debate indicate much deeper changes in Rhode Island's political landscape, and voters should pay attention.
A letter writer opposing school choice legislation fails to mention circumstances of his career (and young retirement) that might be relevant to his opinion.
Justin’s back at the State House for round 2 of the House budget debate.
Justin writes live from the floor of the House on budget night.
Using current controversies to contrive a trick for cooling off on a hot day.
Rhode Island's employment picture is still stagnation, but with plenty of evidence that the state could slingshot back to life if it would stop holding itself down.
The Roosevelt Society's inaugural event, featuring "conservative black chick" Crystal Wright, raised the central challenge of the American Right... even though nobody seemed to see it.
Some thoughts on the obligation to be cranky and contrarian in modern day Rhode Island.
A short new addition to the proposed budget creates a slush fund for the judiciary and raises a whole series of questions.
Continued debate about Rhode Island’s pension reform is disconnected from the reality of the pension system, not to mention the steps that the state really has to take to resolve its problems.
Experiencing the state budget process firsthand gives perspective on what’s wrong with Rhode Island and the apparent illusion of self-governance in the state.
Justin writes live from House Finance on budget-introduction night.
The school choice debate comes down to philosophy and priorities, and the education of the public, in its vast diversity, should come first.
The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has released the full list of the 551 bills (so far) that are likely to be on its General Assembly Freedom Index 2013 if they receive floor votes.
Len Lardaro's attack on the credibility of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity ought to come with doubts about his Credibility Index.
Peter Steinfels offered some intellectually challenging opposition to conservative Catholics at the Portsmouth Institute conference on "Catholicism and the American Experience."
Robert George’s opening talk at the 2013 Portsmouth Institute conference on “Catholicism and the American Experience” argued for the necessity of religious freedom, in opposition both to theocratic imposition of doctrine and secular exclusion of existential searching.
The mounting scandals of the Obama Administration are washing away the boundaries that we've imagined exist between representative democracy and tyranny.
Segments of the commentariat are proclaiming that signs point to a recovering economy, but there's an alternative interpretation that isn't quite so optimistic.
This year’s Portsmouth Institute conference, next weekend, addresses “Catholicism and the American Experience,” a subject for which Rhode Island has provided fertile ground.
Reactions to school choice legislation in the General Assembly raise the question of whether "public education" really means the system by which the public educates itself.
Pending revisions to GDP appear to treat pension promises as risk-free assets, highlighting the difference between realities of accounting, politics, and resources.
A contemplation for Memorial Day, 2013.
Sam Howard misses the point of questions about who the RIGOP is and who is to blame for both its trouble's and the state's.
Legislation introduced in the RI House would offer a broad school choice opportunity for Rhode Island families and may indicate that the state's dire circumstances might finally be opening fissures for big ideas and bold policies.
Legislation submitted last week would allow people to gamble their assets (such as houses and investment accounts) at the new state-run casino.
The question of blame for Rhode Island's political culture requires an accurate view of how politics (and media) operates in the state. It's not sports or business competition; it's life.
The national scandals facing the Obama administration arguably point to the underlying causes of Rhode Island's economic troubles.
The most significant change on the employment-data front might be confidence in the numbers, not just in terms of their raw validity, but in terms of increasing understanding that a falling unemployment rate isn't necessarily a marker of economic health.
Rep. Larry Valencia's question on the relative morality of different taxes points to the question of how tax policy decisions should be made.
A "surveillance state" doesn't just snag those who are overtly criminal, and it can affect a society most profoundly by adding risk to creativity.
A proposed new quasi-public authority with powers of trespassing and eminent domain bring into question legislators' beliefs about rights, particularly in contrast with another bill to make it more difficult to restrain potentially dangerous patients and students.
Notes from testimony on tax-the-rich legislation raise interesting points about what happened with tax policy and the economy over the past five years and what would be likely to happen under other policies moving forward.
Some policy strategists on the right are looking to behavioral science for ways to use government to encourage preferred behavior, but conceding the appropriate role of government to manipulate has an intolerable cost.
Charting the fifty states' distance from their peak employment along with the party controlling the legislature shows some interesting results, not the least of which is the ability of other states to change their courses.
A professor of "religion in public life," by his flawed analysis of regional religious affiliation and same-sex marriage, nonetheless raises some interesting points.
A study finds that Medicaid doesn't measurably improve health outcomes by much, raising questions about why Rhode Island leaps into every government program that becomes available.
Rep. Larry Valencia wants to tax "the rich" at 10% in the name of equity and "shared sacrifice," but dynamic policy modeling suggests that the sacrifice will mainly be Rhode Island's.
A politically correct American Left encourages Americans to turn their eyes away from horrors that illustrate that which euphemisms cover, whether it's infanticide or global jihad.
A Competitive Enterprise Institute video showing unions' harmful effects on "The Life of Julius" cites a study by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.
Video (and one-paragraph summary) of Justin's appearance on WPRI 12's Newsmakers show about same-sex marriage.
As in recent articles from the Current, an investigative report from Tim White, of WPRI, shows another state employee whose funding comes from federal and other sources and whose work practices happen to be deserving of scrutiny.
The City of Central Falls, emerging from bankruptcy, is apparently being run by a crew of young adults with a compelling vision for the city that might not be plausible if public dollars weren't so easy to acquire.
The language added to the RI Senate's same-sex marriage legislation, which passed out of committee today, is far from a "technical fix," and it may present unexpected challenges for advancing the bill the final few steps to being law.
A short story from December 2001 is once again (or still) relevant, in the wake of the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing.
Anchor Rising has joined the Ocean State Current for a joint venture combining their content at the same online location.
Rhode Island's unemployment rate keeps going down, but a look at employment suggests that the picture remains gloomy.
A letter in today's Providence Journal suggests that I'm equating government employees with the people who receive direct government handouts. That's mistaken; they're different (if overlapping) groups.
The way property taxes work, in Rhode Island, revaluations are little more than a way of redistributing the tax burden, and in Providence, a shift from taxing buildings to taxing land has repercussions for a number of recent issues, from the Superman Building to legislation affecting the entire state.
Questions about how the state will pay for Rhode Island's health benefits exchange point to more basic (and more profound) problems with the entire business model of the project.
Nursing assistants under a particular job title at government-run Eleanor Slater Hospital are taking home up to nearly $115,000 per year, with overtime and other enhanced pay.
Raising the minimum wage, as some state and federal legislators would like to do, will lead to hundreds, maybe thousands, of lost jobs, all based on the false premise that families are struggling to get by on these low incomes
The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has added state payroll to its RIOpenGov.org site. The public deserves access to government information so that it can demand explanations.
Justin responds to a Providence Journal article that he finds indistinguishable from what an official government communications team might have produced.
RI employment numbers for February look positive at first glance, but a more substantive review suggests that even the silver lining is pretty dark.
Answering confusion about the import of RIGOP chairman candidate Dan Harrop's withdrawal from the race, a GOP insider explains the options that were on the table for his supporters.
After a strange and contentious week, RIGOP chairman candidate Dan Harrop has withdrawn from the contested race, clearing the way for Mark Smiley to begin his tenure in that role.
The overtime bill for the state government of Rhode Island is up to around $90 million, with thousands of employees making tens of thousands or even more than a hundred thousand dollars in extra pay.
Laundry workers with the state Dept. of Behavioral Healthcare are able to take home six figures of pay in part because state and federal governments spread the cost to different tax bases.
The father of Governor Chafee's preferred "three Ts" strategy for economic development is beginning to see the limitations and damages of it. A strategy of freedom first would better serve the people of Rhode Island.
Rhode Island's unemployment rate notched down again, in January, even though it was the first month of employment losses since September 2011. Meanwhile, the nation has overall been stagnant.
The argument that House leadership's lawyers are offering for "nullifying" an appropriate and legal vote of the House judiciary committee, concerning government ethics, is specious and indicative of a huge problem in Rhode Island's civic culture.
The waste, fraud, and abuse to which Governor Chafee may (or may not) put an estimate based on Ken Block's analysis will likely fall in the range of $106-185 million, putting 38 Studios at the low-end of this annual scandal.
Revisions of employment statistics nationwide (at the very least) raise questions about the wisdom of promoting the numbers from month to month.
Everybody's touting Rhode Island's revised unemployment rate, but context and explanation turn that silver lining sour.
Justin liveblogs from Brookings Institution VP Bruce Katz event with the RI Foundation.
An article not about what it's about; sequester demagoguery; softening kids for "effort shock"; and the rise of grassroots fascism.
Another economic development study presentation at the State House, liveblogged.
Extremely thin ridership on the Wickford Junction train points to the same conclusion as everything else in Rhode Island: Government needs to let the economy happen.
Justin writes live from the Senate Finance hearing on repealing the Sakonnet River Bridge toll.
Economic freedom as the best approach to economic development; what Rhode Island chooses to penalize; the root cause of education decline.
In the midst of wall-to-wall storm coverage, two bills have entered the legislative chute that ought to attract more attention than a local run on milk and crackers.
Taxing sweet drinks; collectively bargained legislation; equal pay for unequal merit; Projo promotes the economy; civil rights from heroism to handouts.
The American Spectator is introducing Chafee to its readers, but Rhode Islanders are all too familiar with his brand of independence.
Progressives and unions want to make a high tax burden "more fair" by making it even higher. Justin thinks the better answer would be eliminating the "least fair" tax, the sales tax.
Legislation to prevent the use of standardized testing for high school diplomas and legislation to prevent electrical maintenance workers from plying their trade freely give a sense of RI's governance problems.
Justin liveblogs from the Senate's "Moving the Needle" Summit.
Woonsocket's budget mess has two lessons for RI: 1) read the Current and 2) pensions are a bigger problem than we're being told.
Congressman Cicilline's hiring of a laid-off Providence Journal employee raises questions about the media's role in civics.
Rhode Island's unemployment rate drops, although it is now tied for last, and employment growth, while happening, isn't enough to return the state to health very quickly.
Justin writes live from a five-hour, four-panel economic conference put on by the RI House of Representatives.
Libertarians and moderates should beware that the relatively rapid move to change the definition of marriage could provide a template for issues on which they agree with social conservatives.
Legislation just submitted would not only compound irresponsible taxation and spending, but the fine print would create a new source of revenue for the government's pet projects.
Legislation described as making a minor technical change to its name would actually put Bryant University on a path to paying full property taxes in Smithfield.
Government control of Americans' lives brings to mind Daffy Duck's quest for found wealth.
Perspective from on high; the empathetic view from my soap box; cover-up as economic development; what happens when that which can't go on forever doesn't.
National employment numbers mostly show stagnation with an unusual jump before the election. Now revisions and changes in methodology will make it impossible to keep up the running analysis.
Feeling hopeful, RI?; "top priority" is shown, not stated; RI gets fatherless children first; surviving sans regulation; surviving sans net income; and surviving sans a documented framework for working together.
A joint interview with RI's three most powerful politicians highlights the error in their shared vision.
Objections to the proposal to eliminate RI's sales tax share the common trait of prioritizing government spending and ruling-class decision making.
Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data for November shows that Rhode Island's nation-leading employment growth has abated.
A bout of pre-New Year's philosophizing raises the possibility that the political Right doesn't require "rebranding" so much as reaffirmation of principle.
Entrepreneurialism appears to correlate with down economies, except in Rhode Island, which seems to be averse to changes in economic realities.
Government's corrupt pension handling; the discount rate scam; fighting off the zoning inspector; government peeking doesn't count as privacy invasion.
The Current updates its monthly review of single-family home sales statewide and town by town. In November, the state seemed to edge a little closer to the turnaround that will begin pushing prices upwards.
Explaining Rhode Island's decline in four brief sections: legal process, the economy, the media, and fashionable graft.
The lesson of current events and history; what the 2nd Amendment means; what that means for change; government control and healthcare insecurity; government control and economic stagnation; a couple positive notes.
Horrific acts like the school shooting in Connecticut are increasingly characterized by the youth of the perpetrators, and America should look to the deeper causes before forcing its citizens to disarm.
RI resident and PA Secretary of Public Welfare Gary Alexander has come under media scrutiny in both states for using a state vehicle to travel between them. Less-reported information gives context to the issue and to the compensation of government officials generally.
Two narratives on the economy; a health exchange story the media is missing; government as pretend leader; powerful teachers' unions (plus Ted Nesi's Rolodex)
To the chagrin of progressives, unionists, and the RI media, state comparisons show more growth in right-to-work states; little wonder Obama is cancelling IRS taxpayer migration studies.
A family's Christmas display shows that the push for removing Christianity from the public sphere in the name of tolerance and separation of church and state is getting to a dangerous point for freedom.
What subsidizes green?; what the unions want the pension law to say; First Family Holiday Fame; America, the Special.
Increasing taxes, even by eliminating mortgage deductions, is still increasing taxes and, therefore, removing money from the economy.
Harmful tweaks to ObamaCare point the way to less and less freedom (and less and less prosperity).
Critical thinking sexism in Providence schools; a masculine career in disability; indoctrination; gambling on the law; an earnest pun.
Evading the progressive ideology snatchers; under surveillance; the not-employed young; and growing up, one way or another.
National results and local controversies point to the problems that have eroded Americans' sense and taste for self governance.
As the governor embarks on a two-year search for "equitable" and "green" economic development, an index by the Fraser Institute suggests RI could grow its economy 15% faster just by matching the economic freedom in CT.
Changing unions' privatization strategy; the government spending ratchet; the government spending racket; and the trap of dependency.
Threats to the economy (cliffs and debts); RI lagging again (yawn); dependors and dependees; Social Security a problem; and a civil right to the war zone frat party.
State and local workers in Rhode Island receive more than 26% more doing the same work, and with the same experience, as those in the state's private sector. The major area of focus should be on empowering taxpayers to become more prosperous.
Healthcare and what you get for free; making a living trying to fix the dying (state); the dictator prescription; and unhealthily sexist (female) teachers.
Political theory (watching where you're going); bonds added to the pool of bubbles; safe regions in a pool with dangerous; government as the most dangerous bubble.
What's up with the Providence charter push; why RI schools lack warmth; how pervasive is progressive destruction; and how an island is like policy knowledge.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse offers a succinct recitation of his party's flawed talking points on Social Security.
Taft-Carter takes the Iannazzi mantle; RI back to pre-democracy; the ascendance of unaccountable bureaucracies; and America gone mad (with the Big Blue Bug).
Employment data suggests that, despite the impressions of those who live here, Rhode Island's job market is booming.
Debate around the Internet is beginning to make the city-suburb divide look like a festering battle along ideological lines.
Historic tax credits have a broader effect than is immediately obvious, ultimately harming hard-working Rhode Islanders.
The Current updates its monthly review of single-family home sales statewide and town by town.
On the politics (and policy) of exit polls, social issues, statism, and hugging.
Pre-election restlessness; race, politics, and advancement; differing job estimates without optimism; situational social issue calculus; old media as the election's big loser.
Campaign finance serving incumbents; too common common political wisdom, locally; not hating the opposition; fearing the "common core." Click here
The most accurate summary of today's national employment numbers from the BLS might be "a mixed-but-still-tepid (and strange) picture." Overall results are of modest, insufficient improvement, but employment results are inexplicably rosy.
Mainstream reporters chat; the unknown cost of economic development; improving higher education by dumbing it down; a lawless society.
Campaign finance & incumbents; where the buck stops for the bad economy; Obama follows Chafee on a Commerce Czar; and the storm should be a warning.
The calm before the storm provides opportunity to consider the effect of legislation on behavior during and after an emergency, as well as the priorities of the people who create laws.
The ballot question on bonds for affordable housing illustrates how too much unanimity among representatives of government, advocacy, and media can lead to incremental deterioration of public policy.
Liveblogging discussion of municipal pensions at Brown University.
Mainly on government's bad incentives: bad housing spending in Providence, unlearnable spending lessons for the governor, stimulus corruption, and Medicaid reform.
A brief analysis of the referenda questions that will appear on this November's ballot in RI suggests that the state would be better off reordering its priorities, rather than expanding debt and doubling down on casinos.
RI's seasonally adjusted employment in September saw the largest one-month increase in the state's recent history and led the statistical national boom, but there's reason to question the results, and the Ocean State still has a long, long way to go.
Employment statistics would seem to suggest that RI's economy is booming. Readers (and voters) should be wary.
Travis Rowley correctly notes that deregulation didn't cause our woes, government backing did, and Justin suggests that such is the inevitable outcome of too-large government.
Ted Nesi's suggestion of government borrowing now based on the inevitability of borrowing later is indicative of a deeper problem within a culture accustomed to economic growth.
Observing the VP debate from within; flight from a failing region; surprising beneficiaries of a government bailout; a fable.
Updated single-family house sales statistics for August show some improvement, but mostly a mixed picture from town to town.
A national report card from the Cato Institute gives RI Governor Lincoln Chafee a D.
RI Governor Lincoln Chafee's claim to independence at the Democrat National Convention doesn't jibe with his lunge toward President Obama's larger welfare intention with health benefit exchanges.
Providence Journal reporter Philip Marcelo's article on RIVotes is misleading.
Contaminated drugs raise the choice between chasing the regulatory tail and beginning to analyze the larger causes.
Employment leaped up in September, giving President Obama a nearly miraculous hand in his campaign for reelection.
West Warwick for all; the essence of education reform; declines in people births; declines in business births; the easy street to dependency.
Controlling prices across a continent; a look back at erroneous polls; Matthews in the echo chamber; excuse #2 for Benghazi.
Economic development options, from all-government to government-dominated; the heartless-to-caring axis in politics; Southern New Englanders' "independence"; solidarity between Romney and his garbage man; the media coup d'etat.
Economic development difficulties in Rhode Island begin with flawed thinking, and so residents are finding themselves turning to Massachusetts for jobs, housing, and even free-market commentary.
Bob Plain's petit four of class warfare; CA's bid for more pension fund dollars; a martial metaphor for regionalization; a downturn for the never-recovered; Coulter v. View mention of RI.
The question of President U.S. Grant's liberality touches on the muddled thinking of modern progressives.
Tiverton STOP-the-tolls meeting showed the battle as community spirit versus regional politics, with locals misunderstanding the operation of the Rhode Island system of government.
RIPEC's report on reshuffling the EDC was worse than useless, providing insufficient substance and offering cover to elected officials who wish to pretend that its recommendations count as "doing something."
Mainly on media culpability and the economy: RIPEC's unquestioned report; skewed polls; the president's reportorial zombies; and the reluctance to invest in the economy.
Believing the political worst of priests; spinning bad SAT results; the skill of being trainable; the strange market valuation in Unionland.
A 1998 recording of then-Illinois-state-senator Barack Obama expressing belief in "redistribution" may be more noteworthy for the evidence that it provides for the motivation behind "dependency portals."
Many faces of big government: standardized tests; interest group buy-offs; government as marketing practice; and the United States of Panem.
Returning RI to its natural state; RI as a playground for the rich; the gimmick of QE; the gimmick of digital records; killing coal/economy; when "Mostly False" means true.
The narrative of the candidates; death panels and pension boards; the endgame of government debt; an enemies list.
Rhode Island's unemployment decrease actually included an increase in workers, in August, but the state is mainly stagnant in a declining national employment picture.
Issuing bonds to harm the housing market; disavowing movies in Pakistan and tearing down banners in Cranston; the Constitution as ours to protect; the quick failure of QE3; and Catholic social teaching as the bridge for the conservative-libertarian divide.
Why freedom demands father-daughter dances; the U.S., less free; PolitiFact gets a Half Fair rating for its Doherty correction; and the mainstream media cashes in some of its few remaining credibility chips for the presidential incumbent.
Video from Romney's April 11 town hall in Warwick, RI, shows that there's not much surprising about the "secret" video purporting to show him disregarding government-dependent Americans.
Days off from retirement in Cranston; the conspiracy of low interest rates; sympathy with the Satanic Verses; the gas mandate; and the weaponized media.
Chafee shows his bond cards, Chicago exposes a metric discord, Rhode Island misses the skills-gap/business-cost lesson, QE3 misses the inflation nebula, and college majors miss the mark.
Ted Nesi's heralding of union organizers as "smart" captains of their political teams gives context for considering Rhode Island's deep, deep problems.
The executive branch of the United States government seems to be distancing itself from the nation's philosophically founding documents.
Being right about district 1 messaging; PolitiFact prepares for the election; what's a charter; being right about quantitative easing, First Amendment; and Bob Dylan says what he means.
Justin writes live from a "fireside chat" with Supreme Court Justice Alito at Roger Williams University.
Madness overseas and at home, lunacy in the Fed, the disconcerting growth of government, and the performance art of public-sector negotiations.
No deep theme, today, but bad British commentary, union priorities, stimulus as wishlist, the fame of Dinesh, and a response to Dan Yorke's Congressional District 1 analysis.
Today: September 11, global change, evolution, economics, 17th amendment, gold standard, and a boughten electorate... all to a purpose.
Today it's debt and gambling, from bonds to pensions to entitlements, with consideration of regionalization, ObamaCare, and campaign finance.
Chicago teacher strike exposes communities' strategies for working around government.
The topics of hope and hopelessness pervaded this weekend's readings, from absurd labor rules in schools, to the likely outcome of Make It Happen, to Spencer Dickinson's insider view, and then to Sandra Fluke.
Having done little reading while participating in the RI Foundation's Make It Happen RI conference, Justin uses his end-of-day column for reflection.
Today, Justin touches briefly (for him) on long-term vs. short-term recovery, who's better off, RI's long spiral (and potential for quick resurgence), and the significance of different ballot types in Cicilline-Loughlin.
The Chariho school district is the latest to test boundaries in search of budgetary relief from the teachers' union machine.
Today's short takes address misleading labeling at the DNC, misleading fact-checking, fading national competitiveness, and the September 10 mentality.
Political incentives may suggest avoidance of concrete suggestions, but nearly six years since RI's peak employment month, it has fallen to political outsiders to formulate an economic proposal.
Tuesday's quick(ish) hits find a theme in partisanship and government spending.
The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has released a study of employment numbers that should set the context for the nation's response to our governor's convention speech, this evening.
Justin rustles up some quick hit-posts from his daily reading list.
The common wisdom that outside investment is the start of all productive activity can distort economic policy and political unity.
Step 1 in transforming Rhode Island's economy is to stop talking in jargon and to trust people to forge their own futures.
Clint Eastwood's speech to the Republican National Convention set the easy chair of the "messaging elite" rocking.
While austerity may not be a comprehensive solution, Justin suggests that government's economic gambles are no solution at all.
A spokeswoman for Treasurer Gina Raimondo offers some sparing details on her office's hedge fund strategy, but the outlook for adequate investment returns continues to be gloomy.
The North Kingstown janitor controversy provides the latest evidence that taxpayers pay a substantial premium for the workers on their payroll, compared with the private sector.
Rhode Island's standing in some national comparisons related to doctors and Medicaid add further evidence that the Ocean State is not well suited to be a pioneer in implementing health exchanges and Medicaid expansion.
A closer look at the RI Dept. of Education's ranking of elementary schools suggests that parents and the public at large should consider their schools' results with care.
Former President Clinton is characterizing the economic choice as deregulation that caused the bust (Republicans) and another approach that, he claims, caused the boom during his time in office. Staring at an economic chart suggests that's not an accurate presentation.
Analyzing the sources cited in a PolitiFact investigation of Center for Freedom & Prosperity CEO Mike Stenhouse confirms that Rhode Island does have the most health insurance mandates, and they are the most burdensome in the country.
An update and expansion of single-family-home sales data for each city and town suggests that Rhode Island's real estate may not have hit bottom yet.
Rhode Island's employment picture continues to be starkly negative, unless its new motto is, "We hope people leave faster than they lose their jobs."
Responding to disagreement, Justin expounds on the problem with "dependency portals."
Compartmentalizing society, with business tasked with maximizing profit and government tasked with picking up the pieces, is another example of how big finance is distorting both the economy and the government, in Justin's view.
Video and an off-stage anecdote from Justin's appearance on 10 News Conference with Bob Plain, hosted by Jim Taricani.
The Current collects the legislative votes in favor of and opposed to the budget article allowing tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.
Justin is his contrarian self on State of the State with John Carlevale.
The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has created a page to trace the development of Rhode Island's "dependency portal."
The continued sluggish recovery results from the failure of the President and the rest of the political class to pay enough attention to the economy to recognize how current circumstances are unique.
Justin writes live from RISC's summer meeting.
A neighborhood attack on two robbers wasn't street justice; it was crime prevention. And it ought to raise questions about the wisdom of disarming the public.
According to the RI Dept. of Labor and Training, the state is creating jobs, but it looks like they're going to people out of state.
The Stephen Hopkins Center birthday celebration for Milton Friedman raised questions of justice and virtue.
A New York Times op-ed gets a little too close to the edge of politicizing math education, for Justin.
When considering borrowing, voters should step back and question whether the system isn't corrupt at its core, suggests Justin.
Even more context for President Obama's Roanoake speech produces even worse context, in Justin's view.
Audio from Justin's Tuesday appearance on the Dan Yorke Show.
Apparently, just as the silver lining of the recession was that men lost most of the jobs, allowing women to catch up as a percentage of the workforce, the dark side of the recovery is that men are claiming most of the "new" jobs.
President Obama has modified his "you didn't get there on your own" perspective quite a bit in the past week and a half.
A new study of teenage unemployment, with an eye on public policy such as the minimum wage, suggests that we might be failing young adults.
The full list of RI legislators declining salary increases, Justin suggests, only emphasizes the failure of the General Assembly to address the state's real problems.
Rhode Island's improved unemployment rate for June tells a deceiving story; the state's decline continues.
The grammatical debate over President Obama's "you didn't build that" remark risks trivializing the core dispute, which Justin sees as definitional for our times.
The latest national unfunded pension liability estimate of $4.6 trillion ought to spark conversation about the meaning (and value) of risk.
Rhode Island taxpayers have been fleeing the state since 2003, bringing their money and productivity with them; the trend can definitely be reversed, but it's a choice that residents will have to make.
Portsmouth's wind turbine has run into technical problems, and Rhode Islanders should learn a broader lesson about government in business.
The audio in which RI Health & Human Services Secretary Steven Costantino, Health Benefits Exchange Director Christine Ferguson, and Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts describe their vision of dependency portals.
A policy brief for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity finds multiple reasons for the state to pull back from its plans to implement a health benefits exchange and to expand Medicaid.
A possible ban of plastic bags in Barrington is one more indication of Rhode Island's governance problem.
Independence Day ought to entail reading the Declaration and pondering the relevance that it should have in our times.
Ramesh Ponnuru characterizes the mandate tax as a deduction, but that neglects the portion of the Supreme Court's ruling that allows an overall increase.
Rhode Island's regular public school districts are losing enrollment as a percentage of population under 18. The Current explores how each city and town is faring.
Two more points from the lieutenant governor's press conference, yesterday, raise questions about the direction of health care and about what freedom requires.
The language of NFIB v. Sebelius ultimately requires the mandate tax to be a sort of property tax on one's body, with a corresponding tax credit applied to income for those who purchase health insurance.
Justin appears on Rhode Island Public Radio's Political Roundtable to discuss the Supreme Court's ObamaCare ruling.
A David Brooks column leads Justin to question new and old statements of common health care wisdom.
Lt. Gov. Liz Roberts's claims that ObamaCare will expand coverage for small-business employees does not address how the law will affect different small businesses.
Complete video from the Stephen Hopkins Center's panel on "Unwinding 38 Studios."
Justin writes live from the Stephen Hopkins Center's panel discussion on the 38 Studios deal and its aftermath.
The claim that recent health care legislation signed into law last week adjusts depending on the Supreme Court's pending decision on ObamaCare is a bit of an overstatement.
An attempt to consider whether Treasurer Gina Raimondo's investment assumptions are reasonable leads to deeper (frightening) considerations.
With Education Commissioner Deborah Gist recommending that the charter expire for one of Rhode Island's charter school specifically on the grounds of its math scores, the question arises whether private-sector methods and non-union teachers might underperform their public-school peers. Comparing several charter high schools in RI shows that the lesson may be the opposite.
A Gallup poll finding American confidence in public schools at an all-time low also points to a disconnect between Americans' opinions of various institutions and the priorities of government.
Various national organizations have attempted to calculate unfunded liabilities for Rhode Island and other states across the nation. The differences are dramatic and indicate reason for concern.
A New York Times mention of Woonsocket's problems has the state buzzing; Justin suggests that everybody should look a little more deeply into the heart of Rhode Island's problems.
Reviewing the latest budget in terms of RI's rankings according to various criteria puts the state's choice of decline or turnaround in clear terms.
An unspoken assumption of advocates for payday loan reform leads Justin to question the ability and right of government to meddle.
RI's employment slide stopped in May, but comparison with MA shows just how much ground it has to recover.
Under the radar, the state government of Rhode Island has gradually been reversing the workforce reduction achieved during Governor Carcieri's second term.
Although enrollment is down in almost every Rhode Island city and town, expenditures have continued to grow at several times the rate of inflation.
Still over-tired from the General Assembly's final night in session, Justin draws some lessons from the experience.
Justin writes live from the final day of the legislative session.
Kevin Mooney has appeared on Breitbart and Glenn Beck.
Justin tries to keep an eye out, live, during what may be the second-to-last night of the legislative session. EBEC, casino, budget, campaign finance, and felony dog leashing rules.
In Justin's view, the similarities between Netroots and Rhode Island extend to similar internal contradictions.
Justin muses about the inappropriateness of honorifics in American politics... especially in Rhode Island.
NEA Executive Director Robert Walsh may disagree with findings of deteriorating opinions of teachers' unions, but technology and events of recent years suggest reevaluation may be in order.
Trends in GDP growth for Rhode Island and three other New England states suggest that its general policy approaches during the last decade might be worth reconsidering.
Justin whiles away the evening writing from the State House floor (campaign finance) and House Environment and Natural Resources Committee hearing (EBEC).
Projections of a sales-tax phase-out in Rhode Island show a stark decision for the people of the state, with a little government restraint yielding accelerated economic recovery.
In a mildly whimsical video blog, Justin explains pension fund discount rates and the risk associated with shooting too high.
Teacher unionization may work in smaller, less-diverse systems, but that's proof that those systems are different, not that the United States should match them.
Justin writes live from House Finance Committee; House budget.
Dept. of Revenue Director Gallogly comments on pension issues and communities on the brink of state oversight.
Channel 10's Bill Rappleye interviews Justin about hidden profits from tax credit programs.
Addressing city's pension shortfall, Woonsocket budget commission faces another $7 million annual deficit, addressing $46 million gap over five years.
Justin writes live from a joint House & Senate Committee Hearing on casino legislation.
Continuing talk of the "skills gap" in RI's labor force (with the call for more resources) further defines the extent to which advocates are on the wrong path entirely.
As public officials debate the appropriate next steps for Woonsocket, the city's local pension plan provides an example for caution.
A Memorial Day reflection in verse.
The state government's negotiated take from proposed casino games at Twin River and Newport Grand would provide a sliver of relief from a swath of loss and may not be worth the shift to full-scale casinos.
Video of Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt moving to recommit S2872, an act authorizing a supplemental tax increase in Woonsocket.
Despite legally residing in Delaware, 38 Studios will be subject to Rhode Island's $500 minimum corporate tax.
The final part of this series groups communities by income and population change, finding clear distinctions suggestive of different strategies for moving the state forward.
News media too often goes for the flash, but Justin suggests that the impulse begins with the audience.
A quasi-public wind farm proposal is still flying below most Rhode islanders' radar and changing shape from month to month, the latest idea being to make it a subsidiary of the EDC.
Part 2 of The Current's long-running review of population and employment data assesses population, employment, and income trends across the cities and towns to develop a sense of how communities are shifting.
The Current's long-running review of population and employment data can lead to better understanding of who is being affected by public policy in Rhode Island and how. Part 1 reviews how the cities and towns compare right now.
An example of civil asset forfeiture in Northern Massachusetts adds punctuation to Justin's concerns about the local forfeiture windfall taken from Google.
Westerly's unemployment rate is better than RI's, but the reason appears to be the willingness or ability of its residents to drop out of the labor force when they aren't working.
38 Studios has brought into stark relief the problems of government-run economic development.
Not only has RI's sharp drop in employment continued, but its trend is increasingly opposite that of the nation.
General Treasurer Gina Raimondo expresses concerns about a bill to bring Central Falls and other struggling pension systems into MERS.
Justin writes live from the RI Senate Committee on Finance, including Central Falls retirees and a path to MERS.
Sen. John Tassoni's wife lacked a license for her day care center, but he won't comment about whether RI's licensing regulations are too burdensome.
Using a police windfall award to (possibly) eliminate pension problems may seem like common sense, but when the dynamics of government are considered, Justin suggests rationality goes in the other direction.
Richmond has the second lowest unemployment in Rhode Island, but its longer term trends are arguably the healthiest.
Rhode Island has the seventh highest energy costs, and renewable energy standards are a likely contributor.
North Kingstown's low-for-RI unemployment rate disguises a town that hasn't grown much and now has an historically low number of employed residents.
It is definitely a matter of concern that 38 Studios may cost RI some large portion of the debt that it guaranteed, but Justin suggests a little perspective might be in order to learn from the experience.
During no period, from 1965 to 2000, did young, single college graduates increase in number in Rhode Island, according to the U.S. Census.
President Obama's staff has been promoting his agenda on the biographical pages of previous presidents.
Legislation bringing Central Falls and other municipalities into MERS limits pension cuts to 25% and may set precedent for repeated state bailouts.
New Shoreham's March unemployment of 29.5% (not seasonally adjusted) is high by any measure, but it may be more concerning that both summer peaks and winter troughs have been lower than any time since 1994.
At 8.5% (not seasonally adjusted) Narragansett's unemployment rate is low, for RI, but the reason is that its labor force adjusts more than usual to gained and lost employment.
Government and public administration has moved up to 2nd on a list of fraud-prone industries, with health care and education climbing quickly.
A bill by Sen. Crowley and the Dept. of Revenue would allow cities and towns to use the state oversight process to move retirees into the state-run MERS pension system.
The specter of a double-dip recession brings into stark relief, for Justin, the lack of vision among those leading the state.
In keeping with past experience, Kauffman/Thumbtack study finds RI to be dead last in the nation for small business friendliness.
The General Treasurer's office clarifies, for the Current, a chart showing a brief period of pension investment returns below expectations.
Hopkinton grew, in population and economically, over the last decade, but since 2010, employment has stagnated as the labor force recedes.
New methods of math education remind Justin of the math that professionals and politicians are using, even now, to conceptualize pension funds.
Throughout the '90s and most of the last decade, Exeter was on a path of growth, but 2007 brought an end to employment increases, and 2008 lost jobs. Now, the town's unemployment rate is 12.2% (not seasonally adjusted).
Al igual que un conductor que no sabe donde los edifi cios que solían ser, los que no conocen los canales secretos del gobierno de RI tienen tres opciones
RI requires licenses for the 14th highest number of lower-income occupations in the U.S., imposing the 22nd greatest overall burden, disproportionately affecting men and minorities, whom the recession has hit hardest.
Charlestown's unemployment puts it well above the overall rate for the state and results from more than four years of continual employment declines.
Justin liveblogs from a Tiverton School Committee that promises controversy over tactics used while advocating for particular budgets.
A jumble of news and commentary headlines leads Justin to wonder where the cause and effect lie in entitlement and nanny-statism.
Tax breaks for artists raise the question of why all Rhode Islanders shouldn't have more control over their own destinies
Woonsocket's number of employed residents has never been lower, in the 22 years of DLT data, and the only thing keeping its unemployment rate steady is the rapid decrease in labor force.
The New York Times' claim that President Obama has shrunk government shrivels under examination.
Local transportation funding is vulnerable to federal vicissitudes because it is entirely federal dollars build on a bed of local borrowing. That ought to raise questions among voters about the management of the state.
Despite some local journalists' reports, RI's Medicaid Global Waiver reform has saved $55.2 million within the first year and a half of implementation, and would have saved more but for ObamaCare and federal stimulus legislation.
Smithfield's unemployment rate has improved a little since 2010, but the reason is that its labor force has fallen off while its number of employed residents has mostly stagnated.
Scituate's employment and population trends aren't far from the typical RI town, and its not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate is below the state's overall number. However, the town has been on a consistent downward drift for a number of years.
Although no employment pictures are positive, in Rhode Island, Providence's is a mixed bag. Still, all positive spin must be tempered with the fact that so few of its residents are interested in working, with only 40% actually employed. Its unemployment rate would be around 30% if it were like other cities and towns.
Standing in static comparison with other RI cities and towns, Pawtucket's employment statistics are bad, but not state-leading. It's the longer-term view of the city's decline that ought to be a matter of concern.
The intricate machinations suggested by Gary Sasse in the "tax-the-rich" debate raise the question of whether RI can afford the risk (or the wait) involved with technocratic designs.
North Smithfield's unemployment rate of 10.1% (not seasonally adjusted) is largely attributable to the rapid growth of its labor force during the last decade.
Empirical data related to the ideology of state-level legislators suggests that, yes, Rhode Island is very liberal.
Polemics can give a sense of the debate concerning reasonable predictions, and investment returns are no different.
North Providence's low-for-Rhode-Island unemployment rate masks the fact that the city's number of employed residents has never been lower in the DLT's 22 years of data.
Lincoln's employment trend over the last decade was along the typical Rhode Island line, with labor force growing substantially while employment receded. Since 2010, however, the town's situation has not improved, although it remains better situated than the state overall.
At 12.9% (not seasonally adjusted), Johnston has among the highest unemployment rates in Rhode Island. Like some other cities and towns, however, Much of the employment gap results from the presence of additional people in the workforce.
Ian Donnis has looked into RI's negotiations for its share of prospective casino revenue, and pulling all the data together suggests that table games may only mean $9 million per year to the state government.
In some circles, local ties to ALEC have been hot news this week, but Justin isn't sure that the complaint against the group is really what it's being articulated
In a comparison that plays out in other competing communities in RI, Foster and Glocester exhibit an interesting dynamic. Foster has significantly higher unemployment, but its number of employed residents is up, while Glocester's is down. The difference is the number of people who want to work.
The Providence Journal publishes an entire article about him without letting on that John Edwards is a Democrat, much less that he was almost vice president on that party's ticket.
Liveblogging from the Senate floor session and House Finance.
S2680, from Sen. Walaska, appears to open the door for the PUC to act as a police force. Senate Judiciary hears the bill, today.
Not seasonally adjusted, East Providence's unemployment rate of 12.8% is well above the state's average. With its total employment near a record low and its labor force nearly there, as well, it's even more concerning that unemployed residents remain near the high.
Pension actuaries use the word "liability" differently than the layman would. The total actuarial accrued liability of Providence's pension system has been given as $1.3 billion, with about $0.4 billion in assets, but the liability as most people would probably conceive of it is more likely $5.7 billion, with the same $0.4 billion saved up to date.
In terms of employment change from 2000 to 2010, Portsmouth is pretty much the typical RI town. The town weathered the recession well, until 2010, and its seasonal swings create an interesting comparison with the rest of Aquidneck Island.
The House Finance committee hears a variety of tax proposals, mainly concentrating on taxing "the rich"; Justin writes live.
Cumberland is somewhat unique in Rhode Island, in that from 2000 to 2010 it gained employment. Still, its labor force grew more quickly, so its unemployment is still high, and all numbers are down from their boom-time peak.
Inflated assumptions for pension system rates of return mean that the budget that Providence Mayor Angel Taveras unveiled this evening (and all current RI budgets) amounts to an accounting trick to disguise future tax increases and pension cuts.
Cranston's unemployment rate is below that of RI overall. Most interesting, though, is how trends in employment compare with those in Warwick, for very different results.
RI's income tax reform affected taxpayers with little income beyond what they pay for medical care. As the state seeks to fill in the gap for low-income Medicaid recipients, the gravity of government complexity grows.
The not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for Central Falls was 15.6% in March and would be much higher if the same percentage of the population were in the labor force as in other RI cities and towns.
Burrillville's unemployment rate equals the statewide average of 11.8% mainly because the town's employment has not matched its growing labor force. Consequently, unemployment is near the town's all-time high.
A weekly roundup of Ocean State Current articles and posts.
Is it the bull or the bear for Rhode Island? Justin suggests that if Rhode Island is to cease to be a drag on its region, the model has to be quite different.
A consulting group under contract with two of RI's most-struggling cities is sufficiently confident in its turnaround estimates to proclaim a specific dollar amount; Justin suggests they just go ahead and find the money.
RI's accelerated decline in labor force and employment continues and now constitutes a full-quarter trend; combined with poor housing market results, the trend ought to be of great concern to Rhode Islanders, especially in their capacity as voters.
Tiverton's employment trend is characterized by ten-year growth in population and labor force that wasn't matched by employment. In recent months, improvement in unemployment results only from a fast-falling overall labor force.
Correlation is not causation, but Alabama's employment picture has improved in the wake of its stringent immigration law.
The Current's full "Video on the Go" from Congressman Ron Paul's campaign appearance at the University of Rhode Island.
The process for selecting charter review commissioners in Central Falls has Justin concerned that an important lesson in self-governance is being missed.
Newport joins its neighbor, Middletown, in having very high unemployment, as well as a dramatic downward trend in its population and employment data.
Justin writes live from Ron Paul's town hall event at URI.
Reviewing William Raveis data for single-family home sales in each Rhode Island community, Justin finds that the picture isn't rosy.
Middletown's February unemployment is high compared with the rest of the state, at 13.4%, and January's was the highest in 22 years of data. More concerning is that those numbers were achieved even as the total labor force shrank.
Operating in RI government is like following directions based on where things used to be; Justin says outsiders are disadvantaged and vulnerable.
RI's unions are behind efforts to increase state revenue through gambling and "taxes on the rich" in an apparent effort to counter the effects of Massachusetts casinos, but the state will have to decide whether the consequences are worth the attempt.
Although Little Compton is among Rhode Island's wealthiest communities, the town has seen an above-average drop in employment and its unemployment rate is higher than the state's overall number.
Justin writes live from Don Watkins talk to the Brown Republicans on entitlements.
An interview with Charles Murray leads Justin to muse on the possibility that avoiding judgmentalism in the name of tolerance might just make it less likely that others will have the opportunity to judge us good and worthy of advancement.
According to RI Dept. of Labor and Training statistics, the number of employed residents in Jamestown fell 7.6% from 2000 to 2010. The town's number of employed residents has almost returned to its level before the new bridge to the mainland eased travel to the island in 1992.
Former district 1 congressman Patrick Kennedy tells the New York Times that big donations from special interests is how the business of politics works, with implications for local campaign finance initiatives.
West Warwick leads Kent County in unemployment, in part because its total labor force grew 4.1% at the same time that the total number of residents working or looking for work (its labor force) increased 4.9%.
West Greenwich's employment data (while of limited confidence, given the small population) tells a story of consistent growth, until the current recession moved its unemployment rate above that of the state overall.
Couples who are engaged when they move in together are more likely to stay married than those who are not, but interesting gender differences in the survey data suggest that it matters whether one spouse has been married before.
Argumentation about the concept of "legislation last" when it comes to municipal pension reform appears to be an example of two sides talking past each other.
Warwick's employment story appears to be one of lost population and lost employment. As with some of RI's other cities and towns, Warwick's number of employed residents has never been lower in the twenty-two years of data.
Justin writes live and extemporaneously from the Senate Finance Committee hearing on Gov. Chafee's municipal relief package of legislation.
A pair of articles point to the use of statistics in public policy debates, and Justin encourages everybody not to lose sight of the points being made.
Given its reputation among Rhode Island towns, it's surprising that East Greenwich has a higher-than-average unemployment rate. The explanation likely lies in the growth of its population and labor force, which exacerbated the smaller decrease in employed residents.
Justin writes live from Mitt Romney's town hall in Warwick, Rhode Island.
Matt Allen's petition for repeal of the primary-offense seat belt law leads Justin to consider the real consequence of such legislation.
Reviewing the unemployment picture for RI cities and towns, the Current finds that Coventry's exploding unemployment rate can be explained by increases in population and labor force rather than a decrease in the overall number of residents who are employed.
At this morning's workshop, Treasurer Raimondo's news that the state pension has only been earning 2.28% return on its investments jarred disconcertingly against the actuary's projections of what 7.5% and 5.0% returns mean for the future.
Justin writes live from General Treasurer Gina Raimondo's second comprehensive pension reform workshop for municipal leaders, Part II: Creating a Secure & Sustainable Pension Plan.
Reviewing the unemployment picture for RI cities and towns, the Current finds that Bristol has actually been gaining population and workers, over the past decade, but they're finding jobs in insufficient numbers. And the circumstances for Warren appear dismal from every angle.
Objections that low state contributions to public institutions of higher education should mean low authority over their operational activities raise the question of what the relationship between the schools and the state actually is.
Reason's Matt Welch measures cutting-edge media against legacy media worries about the death of their industry, and reviewing the local playing field, Justin gives an example of how public policy can give them a cudgel (even inadvertently).
Reviewing the unemployment picture for RI cities and towns, the Current finds that Barrington lost 3% of its population from 2000 to 2010 and almost 7% of its employment. Meanwhile, in the quarter leading up to February, 1% of all residents left the town's work force.
Colleen Conley finds a metaphor for D.C. in the Hunger Games; Justin hopes it indicates a shift in political understanding.
Three incidents of public-school censorship lead Justin to conclude that "offense" is trumping a heritage that fostered social health and progress.
Governor Chafee's legislative package for municipal relief includes a bill, S2823, that would expand and deepen the Dept. of Education's authority over school budgets, including general oversight of municipal budgets, as well.
Justin points out the interesting contrast of two opinion pieces in Tuesday's Projo, one an unsigned editorial and the other a column by Ed Achorn.
Justin writes live from the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources hearing, including (for one thing) creation of a new public consortium with powers of eminent domain.
Justin wonders why the concern of left-wing commentator Robert Reich that state-run gambling is a regressive tax receives no voice in Rhode Island.
Sen. President Teresa Paiva Weed and Sen. Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio have issued releases insisting that we move on from the latter's DUI and its aftermath. GA candidate Keith Anderson, victim of a drunk driver's poor judgment, expresses disappointment.
Justin writes live from the Senate Committee on Special Legislation, with particular interest in casino-related legislation submitted on behalf of the attorney general.
Democrats in Congress are looking to slow the expanding cost of financing college while people are beginning to notice the questionable priorities of the institutions that ultimately collect their money. Justin suggests that it would be better to rethink the entire system.
Updated "budget to actual" numbers show that the extra state revenue once heralded as a sign of economic recovery continues to fade.
Justin reacts to Sen. President Paiva Weed's latest Ruggerio statement with an explanation of the end-all-be-all of political consequences, which don't exist in Rhode Island.
"On the go" video from the Central Coventry Fire District special meeting on 04/02/12.
A bill originating in the attorney general's office transfers all authority over casino gambling in RI to the Division of Lotteries and omits "conflict of interest" rules for its employees.
Justin expresses concerns that a windfall forfeiture from Google to government agencies is further evidence of dangerous incentives for an entity that has the authority to tax, regulate, imprison, and kill.
Justin writes live from a contentious Central Coventry Fire District annual meeting in Coventry.
Rep. Joseph Trillo supports a casino ballot question, but he has submitted legislation for a broader study of ways to increase RI's gambling revenue, possibly including a casino on Allens Ave. in Providence.
From digital cameras to cancer treatments, the supply chain is not immune to disruption, and the drive to build the perfect system cannot rely on an assumption that the status quo will hold.
Observing some points in the national education debate, Justin suggests a shift in how we align funding with measures of success.
While determining whether to let his daughter read it, Justin found himself with an opinion about The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.
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.
Justin finds in an RI Future post by Bob Plain evidence of the rhetorical method of barricading the door to discourse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cranston police and fire retirees are receiving double-and-a-half time for holidays that they do not work and would not be working, anyway.