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Arthur Schaper: Chafee’s Budget – A Pie in the Sky Dream

Friday, January 24, 2014

 

As of now, the Rhode Island state budget FY2015 should be renamed “RI-FU 2015 to eternity," believes Arthur Schaper.

Governor Chafee released his proposed budget for FY 2015 in mid-January 2014. With all the planning, how come the state still cannot make ends meet? With lots of colorful rainbow pie charts (another advertisement for marriage equality?) staring at us, Chafee’s budget plans are all pie-in-the-sky, to say the least. Usually, when governors offer their projections about state funding, they refer to what monies they anticipate receiving from revenue streams within the state.

Because the devil is often in the details, someone better summon a priest (Bishop Tobin, holy water please!) and cast out the legion of mistakes, immoral displacements, and unjust appropriations in Chafee’s bloviated budget proposals.

Chafee's Budget Proposal

So, what’s the plan for 2015, Governor Chafee?

Let’s start with the sum set for spending: $8.5-billion budget, with corporate tax cuts. Sounds good, so far. Tax breaks for companies can be a good thing, if you want companies to make money, but not so much if they paid your campaign coffers to make the case. Chafee also wants to freeze state college tuition and then shore up and polish up construction projects all over Rhode Island, including hundreds of dilapidated bridges.

About college tuition in Rhode Island. Are these private institutions even worth the magnified, overblown investment? Looking over tuition costs for the University of Rhode Island (instate: ​$10,878.00), Providence College (​$42,385.00), and Brown University (undergrad, room and board: $60,460), no wonder Chafee was considering a tuition freeze, at least for the state college. As for private institutions, does a college education remain a worthy investment, especially after all the debt accumulated upon graduation, compounded by a meager job market?

Then there are the many bridges which need refurbishing and rebuilding. Hundreds of them. Bridges over a Troubled Statehouse: a new song from Governor Chafee and shock-jock DePetro? People will have trouble crossing Sakonnet River Bridge, since the toll will take a heavier toll on Rhode Islanders come April First, unless the foolish General Assembly intervenes with an extension of the current rates. Providence legislators will revisit an assault weapons ban and drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants, but when it comes to the residents paying their way, the powers that be make sure that they pay!

Who's going to pay for this?

The first question to ask, of course: who is paying for this? More on that later (if ever).

While Speaker Fox had christened 2013 the year of Economic Development, Chafee declared that he wanted to make Rhode Island a “better place to raise a family, find good jobs and grow the business community.”

“The year of Making RI Better”?

Let’s look at other details of his budget. . .

Instead of removing loopholes for key companies to balance the cuts to the corporate tax, Chafee is hoping that Congress will pass legislation to allow states to collect taxes from Internet sales. This is one clear example of failed leadership. Like Governor Brown in California, Chafee does not want to be directly responsible or raising anyone’s taxes, especially on Internet sales. Yes indeed, Rhode Island (hopefully) will rake in more tax revenue, and someone else will press “send”.

But wait, all of that revenue depends on whether the federal government passes the tax. Democrats and Republicans are barely talking to each other (all those shutdowns and debt-ceiling default scares have scarred any semblance of serious bipartisanship), and most of them are seeking reelection this year, too. Does anyone really believe that Congress will approve tax increases, especially the Democrats, who have IRS-gate, Benghazi-gate, and Obama (along with Obamacare) dragging down their national ticket?

The other wobbly indicator which may help or hurt Chafee’s budget: whether the pension reforms of 2011 stay in place. Unions are still up in arms over the deal, and armed with lawyers to undo the reforms.

While Chafee included tax credits for refurbishing old mills and antiquated buildings, the governor also welcomed a host of hotel taxes as well as raising the annual car license fee. And then there’s the $10 million that the statehouse will shell out to creditors over 38 Studios. Apparently, according to the governor, the Ocean State has a “moral obligation” to start paying off the loan, or else bond markets will get jittery, and no one will want to do business in Rhode Island. This is news?

Moving in the right direction?

Of course, with all of this storm and drama resurging in the Ocean Sate, Chafee’s singular statement stands out:

“By nearly every measure, Rhode Island is steadily moving forward.”

Chafee claims that the state is setting sail. Such a remark should be assailed, and mercilessly. More people are leaving than moving into Rhode Island, which now has the highest unemployment rate in the country (but tied with Nevada. Cold comfort). Taxpayers are paying for pensions which were unsustainable, and shelling for a bad loan now going worse than when first offered – how is this momentum, how is this moving forward, Guv Chafee?

The governor should have been blunt about Rhode Island’s incomes/outcomes, then abandoned his progressive convictions, issue necessary changes to the budget, then make some hard decisions, since he had nothing to lose.

As of now, the Rhode Island state budget FY2015 should be renamed “RI-FU 2015 to eternity”.

 

Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.

 

Related Slideshow: Is Clay Pell the Next Lincoln Chafee?

Privileged bloodlines, prestigious prep schools, lofty political ambitions.  Is Clay Pell the next Lincoln Chafee?  

Below is a look at the similarities -- and differences -- between Governor Lincoln Chafee  and likely gubernatorial aspirant Clay Pell.  

Prev Next

Family Legacy - Chafee

Lincoln Chafee is the son of John Chafee, the former Governor of Rhode Island, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of the Navy, who was a decorated WWII and Korean War Veteran, and posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  

Named in his honor include the USS Chafee (DDG-90), the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge.

Prev Next

Family Legacy - Pell

Grandfather Claiborne Pell was Rhode Island's longest serving Senator, having served six terms from 1961 to 1997, whose legacy includes the Pell Grant, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

A decorated coast guard lieutenant in WWII and foreign service officer, Pell's Rhode Island legacy includes the Newport Bridge being renamed the Claiborne Pell Bridge, as well as the Pell Center of International Relations and Public Policy established at Salve Regina University.

Prev Next

Money - Chafee

Both Chafees and Senator Pell had to disclose as members of the U.S. Senate personal financial information -- and both a considerable net worth.  

The U.S. Senate is known as the U.S. Millionaires Club -- in 2005, while Chafee was still in the Senate, Open Secrets pegged Chafee's wealth at between $40 and $63 million dollars.  

Prev Next

Money - Pell

In a Time piece entitled "The New Limousine Liberals", the magazine pegged grandfather Pell's net worth at $12.7 million -- in 1992.  

The website Celebrity Net Worth puts wife Michelle Kwan's personal wealth at $8 million. 

While Pell's first campaign finance report has yet to be made public, records show Pell gave Democratic challenger Gina Raimondo $250 during her bid for General Treasurer in 2010.  

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Education - Chafee

Chafee was educated public schools in Warwick, and attended private schools Providence Country Day, and Phillips Academy before graduating from Brown University.  

Chafee then attended the Montana State University in the horseshoeing school.

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Education - Pell

Pell attended the private boarding Thacher School in California for high school, graduating in 2000.  The school's noted equestrian and outdoor programs require that students ride and care for a horse during their first year.  Current tuition is over $50,000
 
Pell, a JAG who graduated first in his class from Coast Guard Direct Commission Officer School, has a JD from Georgetown University and graduated from Harvard University with high honors in Social Studies and a Citation in Modern Standard Arabic. 
Prev Next

Early Career -- Chafee

Chafee served as a delegate to the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention in 1985, and was elected to the Warwick City Council the following year.  

He was Warwick's mayor in 1992 until 1999, when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 1999 when his father passed away while in office.

Prev Next

Early Career -- Pell

Named to the 2011-2012 class of White House Fellows, Pell served as Director for Strategic Planning on the National Security Staff prior to his appointment by President Obama as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International and Foreign Language Education last April.

Prev Next

Wife - Chafee

Chafee's wife, Stephanie Danforth Chafee, holds a B.S. in Nursing from Boston University, an MBA from the University of Connecticut, and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Rhode Island, helped found the Rhode Island Free Clinic in South Providence, and was featured as one of the ‘25 Models of Promise’ in Shirley Sagawa’s The American Way to Change. 
 
Mrs. Chafee was a co-founder of Women Ending Hunger and has served on advisory boards for Miriam Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital, the Rhode Island Zoological Society and the Rhode Island Foundation.  Last April, she was recognized as one of the YWCA Rhode Island's Women of Achievement.
Prev Next

Wife - Pell

A decorated Olympic figure skater and world champion, Michelle Kwan went on to pursue a career in public service, serving as an American Public Diplomacy Envoy as well as on the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports -- and was recently inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

 
 

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Comments:

Have you ever lived in rhode islans? Im still trying to figure out why you write here. IM guessing you just saw an ad for writers, and google the most shallow news in RI. Your analysis is absolutely useless. At least rowley is a local crank and says some uniquely crazy stuff and had skin in the game by living here. You're just writing for the few bucks and traffic to your website. Chafees budget is modest, and exactly in line with his other budgets. Not thay it even matters because the GA has more say in the budget. If you had any knowledge of local politics youd know that.

Comment #1 by john jacks on 2014 01 24

"More people are leaving than moving into Rhode Island..."

Always interesting to see the fringe-right trot out this nonsense statistic, as if that's relevant to the overall health of the state.

Using that same logic, Rhode Island is clearly one of the most preferred states to live in, as evidence by our ranking as 2nd in the U.S for population density. The only thing surprising would be if suddenly one of the densest states started adding large numbers of residents, an outcome most of us who actually live here know wouldn't be such a great thing.

Comment #2 by Russ C on 2014 01 24

Russ, people leaving the state is a problem. However, the rate of people leaving is slowing down. 2013 was the first year in over a decade that our population increased. That is a positive sign.

There is a lot of unused housing in our cities, and we need a younger population to move here (or start families) or else there's going to be a lot of problems when all of the baby boomers are retired.

Chafee is actually addressing this problem, and acknowledged where the growth will be coming from in his state of the union (it will mostly be hispanics). By reversing the xenophobic policies of carceri and investing in job training and hydroelectric power, I think it's clear chafee is trying to make RI more attractive for people looking to move.

Comment #3 by john jacks on 2014 01 24

In my younger days I was proud to support John Chafee, he was a true leader. Yes, there are people leaving our state, and they are being replaced with illegal immigrants who are counted in the census.

Comment #4 by Marie Dawn Christie on 2014 01 24

Any budget which spends more and taxes more is not dealing with core issues. Pension reforms in 2011 should have been joined with reforms of collective bargaining entitlements of public sector employees.

Illegal immigrants counted in the census? Do you have proof of this? If you do, that would be a bombshell!

Comment #5 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 24

About college tuition in Rhode Island. Are these private institutions even worth the magnified, overblown investment? Looking over tuition costs for the University of Rhode Island (instate: ​$10,878.00), Providence College (​$42,385.00), and Brown University (undergrad, room and board: $60,460), no wonder Chafee was considering a tuition freeze, at least for the state college. As for private institutions, does a college education remain a worthy investment, especially after all the debt accumulated upon graduation, compounded by a meager job market?

Well, very simple analysis given the model that private schools heavily discount tuition. So, doing some actual comparisons.

PC - Avg Financial Aid (not loans) - $27K. Net price - $15K.
Avg debt of student - 32.8K
4 yr graduation rate - 85%

URI - Out of state - 26K; Net (hard to tell as they mix in and out of state aid in one) but - app. 12K
Avg debt of student - 31.1K
4 yr graduation rate - 43% (!)

Brown - Tuition - 46K; Avg Aid - 40K; App net price - $6K
Avg debt of student - 23K
4 yr graduation rate - 84%

So, let's see without comparing the salaries of graduates I can go to (arguably) a higher ranked/reputation school for either just a little more or less, on average graduate in 4 years (compared to having to pay 5th/6th year tuition at URI), and have about the same or less debt..

Now what was your point about private vs public college education in Rhode Island??

Comment #6 by Prof Steve on 2014 01 24

What do you know about the core issues? What are your ties to RI? Do you realize how constitutionally weak our governor is? Do you know anyone who would be affected by WI style union busting laws? What do you know about this state? Nothing. Throwing in stuff you found with google (oooh a Tobin reference) doesnt add to the local character.

Comment #7 by john jacks on 2014 01 24

Over $1 billion in personal income has left RI while population has risen.

http://taxfoundation.org/sites/taxfoundation.org/files/docs/Migration-AGI-(large).png

Taxable income is leaving the State and being replaced by tax takers.

Comment #8 by Jim D on 2014 01 25

To Prof Steve:

You did not address the job finding-retention rate of such graduates How did you factor the averages of the student debt? I pulled all my data from the institutions' websites. Did most of these graduates find jobs?

As for the actually content of the undergrad/graduate curriculum, does any of the education prepare the graduates for life, for the tough economy before them? To think critically, to grow?

Comment #9 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 25

John Jacks:

"What do you know about the core issues?"

I have been commenting on many of statewide/national issues for quite some time, with detractors and benefactors alike.

"What are your ties to RI?"

A deep interest, a motivation for outreach, and a desire to see a fifty-state consevative resurgence, especially in the North East. Plus I am a big fan of Roger Williams' life and legacy.

"Do you realize how constitutionally weak our governor is?"

Yes, and I have commented on this issue, in print and on the radio!

"Do you know anyone who would be affected by WI style union busting laws?"

Not personally, but the reports of teachers decertifying from their unions, the cost-savings for cities and school districts, plus the massive revenue surpluses all signal that Walker's reforms are working.

"What do you know about this state? Nothing. Throwing in stuff you found with google (oooh a Tobin reference) doesnt add to the local character."

I have interviewed and contacted local (Rhode Island) leaders. party activists, and residents. As for my knowledge of the state, check the Go Local Prov archives, and have a blast!

Thanks for reading!

Comment #10 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 25

To Jim D:

Thanks for the stats. How to turn such a sad state of affairs around?

Comment #11 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 25

"Pension reforms in 2011 should have been joined with reforms of collective bargaining entitlements of public sector employees."
Really Arthur? that's got to be the dumbest thing you've ever said, and you've said some dopey stuff. Do you even know what an entitlement is? Evidently not. I know you're trying to sound intelligent, but sorry to tell you, big fail. Just the opposite. Stick with calling money "monies", maybe that will make impress someone who is none too bright...

Comment #12 by D Regnan on 2014 01 25

D Regnan:

About "dumbest things ever said", from your commentaries:

1. "Stop crying about Bengazi."

Share that sentiment with the following people:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=benghazi families&sm=3

And you spelled Benghazi wrong. Not too bright(?)

2. "I'm going to cheer you up though, just when you thought you knew everything, and are so informed, you can stop worrying about the state going "bankrupt', because states can't....."

Detroit already went bust, and a county in Alabama did the same. Don't be so sure about an entire state.

3. "Everyone has access to the same information you do."

You wrote this statement, yet at the same time you acknowledged that no one really knows what happened at Benghazi. Care to clarify?

4. "Wow Arthur, really trying to manufacture a scandal, aren't you?"

Actually, For Our Daughters RI did exactly that, and they have not much to show for it, do they?

In the words of John "rattle the cage" Flynn: Stay Loco, my liberal friend. And thanks for reading!

Comment #13 by Arthur Schaper on 2014 01 26

You did not address the job finding-retention rate of such graduates How did you factor the averages of the student debt? I pulled all my data from the institutions' websites. Did most of these graduates find jobs?

The net tuition and average student debt come from the institution's government reporting documents; an even better measure is student loan default rates as essentially this would be a proxy for student's capacity to cover their debt (both level of debt and ability to cover the debt post graduation).

RIC - 9% default; URI - 7%;

most of the privates (Brown, PC, Bryant) at 2-3% (Roger Williams at 5%).

http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/defaultmanagement/cdr2yr.html

Job placement data for undergraduates is not mandated except in limited cases - such as the for-profits (check the Obama College scorecard initiative); however, the national data on compensation for college degree (key point - I agree it is not worth going to a school with only a 50-60% degree completion rate) versus non-college degree still makes college a good investment in general.

I do agree with your overall point -- RI private colleges are for the most part net "exporters" -- meaning the offer a service bought significantly by "non-RI" students. It would be useful to know how many of those stay (probably not due to the lack of jobs), but also, the state's attitude toward those institutions (along with hospitals - another source of high paying jobs) is they are "free loaders" and a piggybank for local communities to grab $$ (beyond the fact the state gives those communities money in the first place in PILOT payments!)

Comment #14 by Prof Steve on 2014 01 27

Arthur, you say these things I wrote are dumb, but you don't explain why. Perhaps you're confused. Allow me to, as you asked, clarify:

1. "Stop crying about Bengazi."
Share that sentiment with the following people:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=benghazi families&sm=3"

I wasn’t speaking to the Benghazi families, I was speaking to you, and I was referring to the fact that you continue to ‘cry’ that there is some kind of cover up. Everything that can be known about the situation has been uncovered, yet you’re desperate to somehow expose Obama as responsible for a conspiracy to hide the truth. But the fact is you never will, because everything that can be known about it has been revealed, and still no conspiracy. The families of those killed have suffered an enormous loss, and their grief is unimaginable. For you to attempt to use their pain and sorrow in this discussion is, quite frankly, despicable.

2. “And you spelled Benghazi wrong. Not too bright(?)”

Yeah, I left out that ‘h’ in Benghazi huh? I usually ignore such things, but since you feel they are an indication of how bright someone is, What about this gem: “Are public sector cronies are buying both sides of the aisle in Sacramento?” Nice sentence. ‘Are’ is a simple word. You should familiarize yourself with its usage if you are going to continue to try to pass yourself off as a writer. I’ll give you a hint: when in doubt, more is not always better. Not too bright indeed.

3. “Detroit already went bust, and a county in Alabama did the same. Don't be so sure about an entire state.”

I see the problem. I should have explained to you that states can’t file for bankruptcy, because Federal bankruptcy laws don't allow it. I should not have assumed you were aware of such basic information regarding this subject. To further clarify this for you, Detroit is not a state.


4."Everyone has access to the same information you do”
You wrote this statement, yet at the same time you acknowledged that no one really knows what happened at Benghazi. Care to clarify?”

I’ll be happy to clarify. When I said "Everyone has access to the same information you do." I meant that you don’t know anything more about Benghazi than I do, because everything we know about it, we heard from the media, and the media is the same for everyone. And when I said no one really knows what happened, except those that were there, I meant you, me, and the media. Not sure why you think those two statements contradict each other, but they don’t. Maybe you should work on reading comprehension before sentence structure.
Baby steps Artie.


5. "Wow Arthur, really trying to manufacture a scandal, aren't you?"

When I said that, I was referring to your article entitled “Who’s Pushing the DePetro Boycott?” in which you set out to uncover ‘who’ is bankrolling the boycott. As I pointed out, you answered the question yourself: their names are printed on the website. Yet you drone on with wild speculation about all kinds of money being funneled into it by those who do not wish their identities be revealed. Nice try, but, fail. Again, their names are printed on the website. And how much money do you think it takes to put up a website and make some calls? At any rate, you can close the investigation. No one is buying that nonsense. And as far as ‘For Our Daughters’ manufacturing a scandal no, they didn’t manufacture anything. They are reacting to something that he said, as in indisputable facts. I understand you have no problem with someone being called a whore on the airwaves, as long as they’re ‘liberals’, but their reaction was, and remains, genuine. There was nothing manufactured.

So in the words of me: stay dopey mon ami, and no need to thank me for reading, your articles are hilarious. Stay in school….

Comment #15 by D Regnan on 2014 01 27




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