The Scoop - Does RI GOP Want Ken Block Or Not?
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
As The Scoop reported last week, current Moderate Party candidate for governor Ken Block is considering switching parties to run as a Republican—but does the RI GOP want him?
"We're not going to put up any stop signs," Michael Napolitano, RIGOP Communications Director told GoLocal. "We have to be welcome to everyone."
As for Block in particular, Napolitano admits that the party is split. "Some may welcome him, but others wouldn't want him to run." Specifically, certain members of the RI GOP may have a difficult time looking past some of the negative remarks that Block has made about the party in the past, according to Napolitano.
Napolitano also told GoLocal that Block running as a Republican against likely Republican opponent Cranston Mayor Allan Fung would mean one less candidate in the general election.
In 2010, Block received nearly 6.5% of the vote in the gubernatorial election—likely taking some conservative votes away from Republican candidate John Robitaille, who received 33.5% of the vote. Robitaille finished second in the race, losing to Gov. Lincoln Chafee by just over two percentage points.
On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted 54-46 for a clean “continuing resolution” (CR) to finance the government through November 15 without partisan policy prescriptions. Yet once again, House Republican leaders insisted they would not allow a vote on a government spending bill in the U.S. House of Representatives unless it includes language to defund the Affordable Care Act—also known as Obamacare. As a result, the federal government is effectively shut down for the first time in 17 years on midnight Monday. The federal government will remain shutdown until Congress can resolve the issue and pass a bipartisan spending plan.
“The Republican leadership is out of touch with the realities of middle-class families. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Rolling back health reform and denying health insurance to 30 million Americans doesn’t help the economy and it doesn’t create jobs. It will do quite the opposite -- it will set us back.
“Republicans who want to undo health reform lost the debate in Congress, the Supreme Court and last year’s elections. Their bitter message of repeal, delay, and division is a non-starter. I am open to working with anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to strengthen and improve the health care law, but it has to be in the right context, not as a threat over the functioning of the government or the nation’s credit-worthiness.
“A government shutdown is wasteful, irresponsible, and helps no one. I urge Speaker Boehner to allow a vote on a clean CR that keeps the government working for the American people. Given the opportunity, I believe responsible and reasonable members of both chambers will do the right thing and vote to fund the government.”
“I’m disappointed that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans refused to even hold a vote on the responsible bill passed by the Senate to keep the government open. As Rhode Island continues recovering from the recession, we can’t afford to play these games. Unfortunately, because of the extremist demands of Tea Party Republicans - demands that were just the subject of the Presidential election which they lost - the federal government is now set to partially shut down after midnight. I will keep working to end this harmful shutdown as quickly as possible to limit the harm to Rhode Island families. And I hope Tea Party Republicans will drop their unreasonable demands so we can move forward.”
“As you know, the federal government is slated to shut down at midnight tonight because House Republicans have refused to approve funding for the next six weeks of federal government operations. While I am continuing to work in Congress with other Democrats and reasonable Republicans to avert this possibility, I want you to know that my staff will remain available to constituents during a shutdown between 8 AM and 8 PM, Monday through Friday, even though there is no guarantee they will compensated for this time.”
“The writing has long been on the wall that the extreme ideological agenda of House Republicans to delay or defund health reform is a dead end. The fight over the Affordable Care Act was settled, both in the Supreme Court and in the 2012 election, and yet this futile discussion continues all the way to a government shutdown.
“Democrats offered a realistic, Senate-passed alternative that represented a true compromise on spending levels while providing an opportunity to keep government running and negotiate a long-term solution. Unfortunately, Republicans refused to accept anything short of a shutdown. Holding the government and our economy hostage to advance a partisan policy dispute is not how democracy works. This is a manufactured crisis and it was completely avoidable. Republicans need to come to the table with a reasonable alternative or it is the American people that will pay the price.”
The newly formed sales tax commission met on Monday to continue its comprehensive study of Rhode Island’s sales tax.
As part of yesterday’s meeting, the panel primarily heard presentations on Rhode Island’s current sales tax exemptions and how the state’s sales tax compares to other states, and
“We received loads of interesting information from Paul Dion of the state Office of Revenue, John Simmons of RIPEC and Mike Stenhouse of the Center for Freedom and Economic Prosperity,” co-chair Rep. Jan Malik told GoLocal. “We are still in the fact-finding stage about where Rhode Island ranks in terms of sales tax and how other states handle their tax structures.”
Although the panel is still in the information-gathering stage, Malik is sure of one thing: “It is obvious that something must be done to make our state more competitive,” he told GoLocal.
Malik also stressed the importance of getting the public involved. “We haven’t received too much public testimony yet, but we will be encouraging that input in the meetings ahead. As a small businessman who interacts with the public every day, I feel strongly that there is great sentiment to lower our sales tax,” he told GoLocal.
The commission is expected to report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by February 6, 2014.
Based on today's U.S. Supreme Court announcement to hear a related Illinois case, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity is now calling on the State Labor Relations Board (SLRB) to cancel the planned election about whether upwards of 680 home child care providers should accept the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as their exclusive union representative.
The Illinois case is a class-action lawsuit filed by the home child care providers providers after Gov. Pat Quinn signed an executive order designating 4,500 individuals who offer in-home care to disabled persons as "public employees," thus making them open to union organizing.
With the Illinois decision in mind, the Center for Freedom & Prosperity is urging the SLRB to postpone its election.
"Now, with the highest court in the land clearly recognizing that there may be an issue with forced unionization, the SLRB must postpone this election and avoid a potential legal morass until the United States Supreme Court makes its final ruling next year", insisted Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. "With area unions publicly stating that it is their plan to force unionization upon even more independent business owners and contractors in our state, it is even more important that the SLRB does not move forward with a process that my soon be ruled as unconstitutional."
Rep. Naughton Celebrates $500,000 Grant for Jason Learning
On Monday, Rep. Eileen S. Naughton (D-Dist. 21, Warwick) joined world-renowned oceanographer and University of Rhode Island professor Robert Ballard to celebrate a $500,000 grant that will go to Jason Learning, a nonprofit designed to help teachers develop 21st century skills while promoting science, technology, and mathematics.
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and Warwick School Supt. Richard D’Agostino also attended the event.
“The best way to reach students who are falling behind is to show them how much fun math and science can be when applied to real life situations and careers,” Naughton said. “There’s a switch that goes off in the mind of a young man or woman when that student realizes learning is fun. Once a student is engaged, it makes the teaching process easier. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. We need to instill in our students a strong willingness to learn, and Jason Learning does that in a way that many programs have not in the past. I am so proud to have Bob Ballard in our state, making a difference in our communities. It’s such an exciting privilege for everyone involved.”
Formerly known as the Jason Project, Jason Learning is an educational program that uses science and exploration to entice high school students into pursuing subject-related endeavors and careers. Last year, the nonprofit provided educational programming in Central Falls, Pawtucket, Smithfield, Warwick, West Warwick, Westerly and Woonsocket, not including after-school programs. The additional $500,000 in funding will allow the organization to extend its reach to schools in Bristol/Warren, Burrillville, Coventry, Cranston, East Providence, Jamestown and North Providence. Jason Learning also works in collaboration with URI, National Geographic Society, Sea Research Foundation, Mystic Aquarium, Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, and Boys and Girls Clubs throughout Rhode Island.
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