Thursday, March 31, 2005

Good Government?

I never thought I would become such a critic of Governor Carcieri. To be sure, I believe that he is doing a much better job than Lincoln Almond, but his policies seem so 'tunnel vision'-like. For instance, yesterday he unveiled a line item veto proposal that contained two basic points

  • Budget line item veto authority
  • Super majority to approve tax increases
While in principle I agree with both ideas. If you have a massive budget, a Governor could be forced to approve it in order to keep the state functioning. And so a Governor is handcuffed because he cannot weed out what he considers frivolous budget add-ons. On the flipside, the General Assembly shouldn't just regurgitate any Governor's budget proposal. Indeed, I like the idea that both the General Assembly and the Governor's office MUST compromise in the budget. I believe that given the history of the General Assembly and the Governor this line item proposal will only create further tensions and antagonisms. The loser will be average Rhode Islanders. As for the 'super majority' needed for tax increases, while it 'protects' businesses and state residents from tax increases that do not have overwhelming support in the State House, it makes no separation amongst types of tax increases and their purpose. Many times Assembly members are reluctant to make tax increases because of self-interest and not because it's good for the state. Further, I would contend that the goal of passing this piece of the proposal has partisan roots. How? If the Republican party can start to chip away at the Democratic stronghold within the General Assembly then getting enough votes for a super majority becomes that much more difficult. While in theory 'super majority' on tax hikes is a good idea, in the context of Rhode Island, it reeks of partisan trickery. But the Governor says:
Good government is a government that lives within its means [...] We will continue to make reforms so that state government is more efficient and more accountable to the people of Rhode Island
I look forward to hearing from the governor in the next few months on his plans to address the 13 million dollar deficit the Providence School system is facing. Hopefully, balancing the education budget to ensure our children receive an adequate education is part of good government.


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