RI State Report: Big Bucks For Raimondo + Unionization Battle
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Aside from election news, we’ll take a look at the battle over unionization in Rhode Island; get an update on the continuing federal government shutdown from U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse; and recap the Woonsocket primary election.
Election 2014 Heats Up
The 2014 general election may be more than a year away, but the race for governor took an interesting turn this week with the release of a new Brown University poll and new financial figures.
On Wednesday, Brown University released a new statewide poll showing that State Treasurer Gina Raimondo leads Providence Mayor Angel Taveras in a potential Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Brown University researchers found that among Rhode Island voters who are likely to vote in the Democratic primary for governor, 42.0 percent would choose Raimondo and 33.6 percent would choose Taveras. The poll also concluded that nearly a quarter of likely Democratic primary voters are undecided.
Among Rhode Island voters likely to vote in the Democratic primary for governor, Raimondo leads regardless of party affiliation or gender. Raimondo’s strongest support is among Independents, with 45.7 percent choosing Raimondo compared with 31.2 percent for Taveras. Raimondo has a thin margin — 40.5 percent to Taveras’s 38.7 percent — among Democrats. Raimondo has strong support among men, 44.8 percent, compared with Taveras’s 31.8 percent. Women also support Raimondo (39.6 percent) over Taveras (35.1 percent).
Aside from illustrating a positive trend for Raimondo, the poll was also encouraging for Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. In fact, the poll showed him trailing Providence Mayor Angel Taveras by about 7 percentage points in a hypothetical matchup, and behind General Treasurer Gina Raimondo by less than 2 percentage points.
"Though Mayor Fung is still in the process of exploring a potential run for governor, the Brown poll shows he is in a very strong position for being 14 months out," Patrick Sweeney, a consultant for Fung, told GoLocal. "It is abundantly clear that the people of Rhode Island believe that we are going in the wrong direction due to our poor economy conditions and opportunities. We need a proven leader with the executive experience to lead Rhode Island into better times. Given Rhode Island's history of electing Republican governors, there is no question that when people get to know Mayor Fung, learn the great things he has done for Cranston, and listen to his vision for RI, our numbers will strengthen."
On Friday, GoLocal learned that likely 2014 gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo posted a record-breaking third quarter of fundraising in the financial period ending Sept. 30.
According to members of Raimondo’s team, the State Treasurer raised over $400,000 last quarter, which began on July 1 and ended Sept. 30.
Although the Raimondo camp has not released the exact figures yet, an estimate of $400,000 would bring Raimondo total cash on hand to more than $2.46 million, which would be the most money a candidate running for state office in Rhode Island has ever finished a three-month period with.
Furthermore, Raimondo would become the first candidate running for statewide office to raise over $400,000 in a single three-month period. The Treasurer finished the last fundraising period (April 1 through June 30) with 2,063,548 on hand after raising $399,420.
To put Raimondo’s fundraising in perspective, Frank Caprio—who was the gubernatorial fundraising leader in 2010—posted his best quarterly period from April 1 through June 30, 2010 when he raised $320,789. After expenses, that brought his campaign total to $1,742,505.
Although Raimondo’s fundraising tally is record-setting on a state level, U.S. Senator Jack Reed currently has more money in his re-election war chest. In fact, Reed—who is seeking his fourth term—raised more than $704,411 during the three-month period ending June 30, which, after expenses, brought his fundraising total to $2,566,703.
Though less than Raimondo's estimated total, Fung released a solid third quarter financial report on Thursday showing that the likely gubernatorial candidate raised roughly $102,000 in the last quarter.
"The broad financial support all across Rhode Island is a testament to the Mayor's hard work, dedication, and leadership in the city of Cranston" said Jim Donahue, Finance Chairman for the Committee for Allan Fung.
After three quarters of fundraising, Fung has raised over a quarter of a million dollars.
Check Out More News From the Past Week Below
Center Criticizes SLRB
Center Criticizes State Labor Relations Board Decision to Dismiss Request.
On Tuesday, the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) has dismissed a request by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity to await a US Supreme Court decision about whether or not independent home care providers can be classified as a kind of public employee for the purpose of unionization.
The Center previously suggested that no election should be held for the certification of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to represent the providers until the Constitutionality of doing so is clarified.
"It is the epitome of irresponsibility to rush into this election without any public debate and legal analysis of how the Supreme Court's planned hearings, or the recent federal appeals court ruling, might affect plans here in our state. The highest court in the land has clearly signaled that there may be a constitutional issue with forced unionization", said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. "It would be totally unfair to child care providers to conduct an election under this cloud, only to find out in a few months that the entire process may soon be ruled as unconstitutional."
The letter of dismissal, SLRB Administrator Robyn Golden states that SLRB "policy" leaves the Center with no standing to make requests of the government board. She goes on to assert, "It is also not within the Board's statutory authority to act on your request or any requests of this nature."
"The Rhode Island taxpayer has every right to ask the SLRB to avoid lawsuits associated with potentially unconstitutional laws," said Stenhouse, "and the board has the authority to take that precaution."
Earlier this month, the Center published a report highlighting concerns that unionization may cause for taxpayers, service providers, and other independent business owners.
Tea Party on Unionization
RI Tea Party concerned over possible ramifications of unionization.
In light of the State Labor Relations Board's decision not to wait for the US Supreme Court to decide about whether or not independent home care providers can be classified as a kind of public employee for the purpose of unionization, Susan Wynne, President of the Rhode Island Tea Party issued GoLocalProv the following statement on Wednesday.
"This decision by the State Labor Relations Board brings up several questions: Why the rush? Where is the public debate? What about the child care providers who may later learn that this type of forced unionization is unconstitutional? Who is looking out for them? We are very concerned for these providers and fear that once unionization takes place that their individual rights may be restricted and promises made to them may not be fulfilled. And of course, we are very concerned that unionization will place a burden on the taxpayer as the unions look for ways to provide benefits to their new members."
More Unionization Fallout
RI Taxpayers Disagrees with State Labor Board Decision to move forward with unionization vote.
On Wednesday, the statewide taxpayer advocacy organization Rhode Island Taxpayers questioned the State Labor Relations Board’s decision to reject a request by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity that the Board cancel a planned unionization vote by 650-plus home daycare providers.
“First of all, how can the Labor Board say that a group of taxpayers doesn’t have standing?” asked RI Taxpayers spokesperson Monique Chartier. “Taxpayers would fund the additional cost that would come with unionization!”
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would hear Harris v Quinn, the case which challenges the constitutionality of Illinois' law forcing the unionization of homecare providers.
"R.I. Taxpayers remains very concerned that the Supreme Court's ruling early next year may set the precedent for state laws, including especially Rhode Island's new law, pertaining to unionization of home and day care providers," said Chartier. "What legal Pandora's Box will the Labor Board have opened if the Supreme Court rules that such a law does, indeed, violate the rights of free expression and association of homecare providers?"
Whitehouse Talks Shutdown
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says Tea Partiers need to drop their extremist demands and come to the negotiating table.
On Wednesday, GoLocal spoke to U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in order to examine where the talks between Democrats and Republicans stand, and how the looming federal default would affect Rhode Island. Here's what Whitehouse had to say:
“As the government shutdown drags on and we hurtle needlessly toward a possible default, I hope Tea Party Republicans will drop their extreme demands. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are being hurt by this Tea Party shutdown, and a Tea-Party-driven default would be catastrophic for the global economy. Rhode Islanders can’t afford another economic crisis. My Democratic colleagues and I are ready to negotiate with Republicans on any issue any time, as soon as they release the hostages of a shut down U.S. government and a threatened U.S. default. Every Rhode Islander knows the difference between threats and good faith negotiations.”
Reed Talks Shutdown
Sen. Jack Reed discusses how to resolve the federal shutdown and warns about a possible government default.
Despite being ten days into the federal government shutdown, U.S. Senator Jack Reed said he was optimistic that a resolution would be reached when he spoke to GoLocal on Thursday.
“I am always hopeful that common sense will prevail, and I’ve talked to Republican senators who know we need to reopen the government as quickly as possible,” Reed told GoLocal. “This shutdown has been a waste of taxpayer money and should never have happened in the first place. It could be over soon if Speaker Boehner would just take up the Senate’s clean bill to fund the government and send it to the President.”
As far as who’s to blame for the shutdown, Reed admits that brinkmanship in the House has been a problem, but it’s not the only issue.
“Unfortunately, there’s a group in the House who won’t budge. But they’re not the issue. I know there are reasonable people on the other side who want to reopen the government and pay our bills. They know the American people deserve better. The question is will their leadership listen and permit some votes?”
Aside from the shutdown, GoLocal also talked to Reed about the looming default, which the Senator believes could have dire effects on Rhode Island and the nation as a whole.
“If the U.S. is forced to default the consequences could be severe. It could put people’s retirement security at risk and cause interest rates to spike, especially at a time when the economy is still recovering and millions of Americans are looking for work,” added Reed, who met with President Barack Obama this afternoon to discuss efforts to end the shutdown.
“In short, it could deal a major blow to our economy, and it is entirely avoidable. Speaker Boehner simply needs to let democracy run its course and allow the House of Representatives to do its job and vote to end this stalemate. Congress is supposed to help govern and solve problems, not create them. I hope reason finally prevails in the House and we can break the cycle of dysfunction.”
Block on Business Tax
Ken Block discusses ways to improve Rhode Island's business climate.
In light of a study released by the Tax Foundation earlier this week, which found Rhode Island’s business tax climate amongst the worst in the nation, GoLocal reached out to Moderate Party candidate for governor and businessman Ken Block to discuss ways to make the state more attractive and competitive.
“Rhode Island needs to become competitive with our neighboring states and the rest of the country in order to create jobs and grow the economy," Block told GoLocal on Wednesday. "We are consistently ranked at the bottom of these types of studies because our policymakers fail to identify and address in a systematic way the issues that cause us to be uncompetitive. There are a range of taxes and policies that make Rhode Island uncompetitive, including our unemployment insurance and temporary disability insurance programs. My campaign will be all about identifying these issues and providing the specific ways to fix them so that the Rhode Island economy can grow and prosper”
According to the 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index released by the Tax Foundation, Rhode Island ranks No. 46 nationally in terms of the taxes it places on business, up from No. 47 last year. Rhode Island’s score was the worst in New England. Nationally, only Minnesota, California, New Jersey and New York fared worse.
Mayoral Primary Recap
Lisa Baldelli-Hunt wins big in Tuesday's primary.
Democratic State Representative Lisa Baldelli-Hunt won a decisive victory over Republican incumbent Mayor Leo Fontaine in Tuesday’s primary election in Woonsocket beating him by a 3 to 1 ration. Baldelli-Hunt and Fontaine will now face off in the final election on Nov. 5.
The mayoral results were as follows:
- Lisa Baldelli-Hunt: 2,746 votes
- Leo Fontaine: 881 votes
- David Fisher: 446 votes
- Michael Moniz: 34 votes
Tuesday’s primary also trimmed the field for city council from 15 to 14. Al Brien earned the most votes in the primary, while City Council President John Ward finished 9th.
Despite earning enough to advance in the general election, Ward could lose his seat, because only the top seven candidates will be elected to the council.
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