Harriet Lloyd: Support Pro-Taxpayer Candidates
Thursday, September 06, 2012
This year, it’s hard to find a Rhode Islander who doesn’t recognize that the Ocean State is on a terminal course. Bankrupt cities, record foreclosures, vacant storefronts, unsustainable public pensions, 40,000 lost jobs, more than $100 million gambled and lost on 38 Studios, and a dead-last ranking in business friendliness are just a few reasons to be distraught over the state’s prospects.
While Rhode Island gasps for air, too many legislators break the very laws they impose upon others and wallow in their own self-interest and importance. Public-union bosses haunt the State House hallways, confident that, as long as uninformed voters pull the straight-party lever, there’s still another pint of blood to be sucked out of the state’s families and small businesses. Corruption and clandestine deal-making have brought a great state to its knees, and every citizen feels the anguish of witnessing its rapid decline.
But agony is an effective motivator, and it seems to be bringing out unusual clarity in the Ocean State: a noticeably greater public awareness that Rhode Island is in Stage Four critical distress, financially depleted, and ridden with parasites and malignancies infecting its General Assembly. There also appears to be a feverish resentment of the state’s condition – one that has not been evident among Rhode Islanders in previous years. More of them are asking, “Who is responsible? Where is the leadership? Is there a rehabilitation plan?” They’re not quite ready to go home, get their affairs in order, and receive last rites. Although anemic, diseased and dying, Rhode Island is a patient who still may be capable of rallying - if administered the remedies it so urgently needs.
On a rural road in Hopkinton, a resident has attached a bumper-sticker to his mailbox that simply reads, “Re-elect No One.” Though a complete transplant is a tempting and refreshing concept, the unfortunate reality is that, with more than one quarter of Rhode Island’s legislative seats unchallenged, there will still be a host of threats to Rhode Island’s wellbeing remaining in the General Assembly next session. And purging the whole body would only undo progress begun in 2010 when a promising transfusion of new blood was elected – men and women who actually serve the public for the right reasons and badly need voters to provide boosters this November. They have been able to achieve some temporary relief, but have not supplied a dosage strong enough for a lasting cure.
Indeed, recovery can occur only if 2012 voters take a hard look at – and eradicate - incumbents who have presided over travesties like $8.1 B in record spending, healthcare perks of $19,000 per legislator, and cost-of-living pay raises that outstrip anything hardworking citizens can hope to see in their own paychecks.
As overtaxed and overwhelmed Rhode Islanders stagger to the polls this fall, many will look to good-government groups to guide their choices and provide some hope. Understandably, people pre-occupied with the business of survival are vulnerable to false claims by charlatans and quacks who will say absolutely anything to get re-elected. That is why The Rhode Island Statewide Coalition (RISC) has prescribed some serious therapy: a 3-piece voter information package for the 2012 General Assembly races that identifies pro-taxpayer issue positions and candidates who stand for—or against—a taxpayer’s best interests.
The RISC Taxpayers’ Issues Platform replaces conventional candidate endorsements and provides an excellent diagnostic tool to examine a legislator’s track record and formulate the right questions for both incumbents and challengers at the next appointment. Though thousands of pieces of legislation have taxpayer implications, the purpose of the platform is to offer voters a simplified scan of the taxpayers’ perspective against which to measure candidates.
Comprised of two key components: an Issues Index and a RISC Position Statement, the Platform is designed to expose incumbents portraying themselves as advocates for the taxpayer, such as those who last year voted for the larger statewide pension reform overhaul package, but also participated in an effort to undermine and water down the legislative medicine.
A handy “Palm Card” reference version of the RISC Platform is available from the RISC office, and an on-line “Voter Question Guide” will be posted on RISC’s website, www.statewidecoalition.com in coming days.
Rescuing and rehabilitating Rhode Island will require immediate intervention, intensive care, ongoing therapy, and the close supervision of the entire taxpayer team; every citizen must participate in the recovery process by becoming an informed and intelligent voter. Utilizing the resources of the state’s largest taxpayer advocacy organization is a smart choice. Together, Rhode Islanders can save their precious patient and set her on a new road to health and productivity.
- Harriet Lloyd: A Bloated Legislature Isn’t Healthy for RI
- Harriet Lloyd: Returning Legislative Pay Raises is Hardly a Statement
- Harriet Lloyd: Support Pro-Taxpayer Candidates
- Harriet Lloyd: Term Limits and Purging Rhode Island’s Career Legislators