Fung Opposes Chafee Administration Pay Hikes

Saturday, August 23, 2014


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Republican candidate for Governor Allan Fung testified against the Chafee Administration’s plan to give pay increases to several highly paid state employees.

The proposed changes would increase the annual salaries for these employees by as much as 8.5%. These employees earn annual salaries in the range of $100,000.

Fung testified on Friday in opposition to the proposed pay increases at a classified service public hearing at the Rhode Island Department of Administration.

Fung on the Record

"I am against these proposed pay increases for several reasons,” noted Fung.  “Most importantly, it sends the wrong message to the hard working citizens of Rhode Island to see a select few government employees singled out for significant raises, when so many middle class Rhode Islanders continue to struggle economically.  Substantial pay raises for a handful of high level employees, who already make significant annual salaries, send a message that the fix is in for the well connected and that is just wrong.  The proposed changes are not supported by the comprehensive personnel study completed last year, as claimed by the Chafee Administration.  That report calls for efforts to ‘ensure that all employees are properly classified and assigned to internally equitable pay.’  Rather than following the recommendations of their own report, the Administration is seeking to boost the salaries of several high paid administrators on their way out the door and that is unacceptable.”

“Now is simply not the time to be handing out significant raises to a select few state employees, while the State of Rhode Island continues to struggle with a fiscal crisis,” continued Fung.  “With looming structural deficits, it is uncertain that state budgets will include sufficient funds for the pay raises that Governor Chafee has already negotiated with union workers.  The proposed increases would only add to the fiscal burden and our state cannot afford to be handing out additional raises without the funds to ensure that we can meet all of these obligations.  Decisions such as this should be made in the context of the budget process to ensure that funds are available.  This appears to be a special deal being made in the waning days of an administration and creates the appearance of favoritism.  This process should be halted to permit the next Governor to reform the state personnel system.  I have made real reforms in the City of Cranston and as Governor, I will reject these special deals and put the interests of hard working Rhode Islanders first.”


Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Fung Has to Answer When Running for Gov of RI

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10) Can Fung raise the money necessary to be competitive?

At the last reporting period, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung's campaign had only $336,000.


Ken Block had $540,000 and he just entered the race.  


Democrat Gina Raimondo has over $2.3 million and even Angel Taveras has $759,000 cash on hand.

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9) Is Fung ready for prime time?

Fung is well-liked in Cranston and most everyone thinks Fung is a "nice guy."


Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras can claim they took on tough issues.


Ken Block articulates big ideas and a proven record in business, but out of the gate Fung's campaign seems less than ready.


Fung's campaign manager got confused about how many Democrats Fung has  donated to and his motivation for donating to them. 


Would another four years in Cranston be the wiser path?

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8) Can Fung effectively run against Angel Taveras?

Fung claims Providence Mayor Angel Taveras as a close friend, but it raises questions about inherent personal conflicts and ability to run and effective race.


Politics in Rhode Island is often a blood sport, will Fung approve that knockout punch TV spot in the closing weeks that tags Taveras for the spiraling crime problem in Providence?

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7) Is Fung's base big enough?

For Mayor Fung, his base is Cranston, but he does not enjoy a groundswell of Hispanic voters like Providence Mayor Angel Taveras hopes to bank on (7% of the voters were Hispanic in the General Election in 2012, according to Pew Research).


A race against Raimondo would be tough as she would very likely have a strong block of female voters.


Where does Fung get his votes?

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6) Can Fung defend the tax increases in Cranston?

When Fung runs as a Republican against a Democrat, there is an advantage if Fung can point out a differentiation of fiscal discipline. Fung, as Mayor, had numerous and significant residential and commercial tax increases.


This will not help him against the fiscally prudent Ken Block, but even if he were to win the primary then he would lose the advantage against Angel Taveras in a General Election. Both have ushered large tax increases through their councils.

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5) Why pledge to create "20,000 jobs"? It sounds like Don Carcieri.

Don't know if Fung was paying attention, but GOP Governor Don Carcieri ran on...creating 20,000 new jobs. 


When Carcieri left office, Rhode Island had the worst unemployment in America. Not sure Fung wants to mirror that Carcieri pledge.

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4) Defending Don Carcieri and making him a part of the campaign - is that a good idea?

The collapse of 38 Studios has scarred Don Carcieri's legacy as Governor of Rhode Island. At best, Carcieri was star struck to give a baseball player $75 million -- at worse, Carcieri was part of something far more ominous.


For Fung, who wants to run as the future of Rhode Island, why be associated with Don Carcieri?

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3) Defending the lobbyist role?

In 2014, do we think Rhode Islanders will be looking for a former lobbyist for a large corporation that is cutting Rhode Islander's jobs to be our next Governor?


Lobbyist-turned-Governor will be tougher to pull off than actor Ronald Reagan-turned-Governor of California in the 1960's.

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2) Understand the changing position on gay marriage?

Hard to know what Allan Fung's position is on gay marriage. At different times he offered a range of views.


Some GOP primary voters have been opposed to the RI law and others were supportive, but neither segment of the GOP may understand what his position was -- or is.  

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1) Political donations to local, federal and national Democrats - are you sure you are a Republican?

Fung has given to David Cicilline, US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, former RI Senate President Bill Irons and once RI Attorney General Patrick Lynch. Fung's campaign manager claims he was a lobbyist and needed to donate to Democratic leaders.  Cicilline, Reid and Lynch meet none of those criteria.  


Not only did Fung give thousands of his own dollars to Dems, he turned down requests from leading GOP candidates like John Robitalle and Jon Loughlin who were badly outspent and needed every dollar to win.


The Republican party in Rhode Island is a pretty small group trying to create a pretty big tent - from Scott Avedisian to Doreen Costa. For most Republicans in this state it is tough -- you don't enjoy the political connections and you're part of a tiny minority -- so loyalty matters.


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