EDITORIAL: RI Politics at its Worst — Last Minute Legislation Moving For PawSox Owners

Friday, June 22, 2018


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Speaker Nick Mattiello

It is hard to believe that Speaker Nick Mattiello is now poised today to move a bill that will provide a massive public financing subsidy to the private owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox.

The legislation, set to be passed by House Finance, has yet to be presented to the public. No one has seen the bill. Legislators serving on House Finance have not seen the bill.

The earlier drafts of Mattiello’s version of the financing scheme will increase the cost of borrowing by an estimated $25 million over the lifetime of the bonds, according to the head of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council.

The Mattiello version continues to put Rhode Island taxpayers on the hook according to Governor Gina Raimondo. 

Raimondo said earlier this month in a radio interview that despite claims by Mattiello that his new PawSox legislation removes the Rhode Island taxpayer as the financial backstop, Rhode Island taxpayers will ultimately be responsible if the bonds are at risk of default. 

"At the end of the day it is the state (that is on the hook for the financial risk associated with the PawSox stadium) ... you have to acknowledge that," said Raimondo.

Thus, Mattiello’s legislation is the worst of all worlds. First, its structure drives up borrowing costs and still puts Rhode Islanders on the hook.

Now, House members are being asked to pass a bill that underwrites $40 plus million in public subsidies for some of the richest Americans -- without any one of the House members having even seen the legislation, as Mattiello conducted the latest machinations of the House’s business in the dead of night.

Forget that the vast majority of Rhode Islanders have stated they are opposed to public financing for the PawSox owners.

If you tried to design the worst possible process to review and pass a major piece of legislation, Mattiello has perfected it here. Poorly crafted, huge risk, high cost, and all done in secret.

To the insiders, go the spoils.


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