Jobs & Opportunity Index August 2018 brought an apparent improvement in Rhode Island’s ranking to 46th in the country, largely as a result of decreasing state and local tax revenue.

Jobs & Opportunity Index August 2018: Less for Rhode Island Is More (Unfortunately)

August brought an apparent improvement in Rhode Island’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) ranking from the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, to 46th in the country, largely as a result of decreasing state and local tax revenue. Of the five (of 12) datapoints that were updated for August, four were positive, from JOI’s perspective, with a negative for jobs based in the state.

Employment was up from the first-reported number for July by 1,001, while labor force was up 256. The larger growth of employment than labor force translated into a drop of the unemployment rate to 4.0%. The growth in labor force was much smaller, this month, which may be related to the fact that RI-based jobs decreased by 1,900. Back on the positive side, however, was the 1,419 drop in Medicaid enrollment and $191 million reduction in state and local taxes. This last point may be too early to celebrate. Before next month’s JOI report, numbers should be updated for Rhode Islanders’ income, and if less income was the cause of the lower taxation, the net effect would not be an indicator of health.

The Ocean State saw no change in any of the subfactors that go into its overall JOI ranking. The jump in place to 46th resulted from New York’s falling behind with a drop in jobs and an increase in state and local taxes.

The first chart shows RI last in New England. New Hampshire leads the region, with 3rd place, nationally. Vermont jumped past Maine, moving eight spots to 13th while Maine moved up only one spot, to 16th; note, though, that this results from Vermont’s nation-leading loss in state and local revenue, so income numbers may reverse its progress. Massachusetts held at 35th, and Connecticut fell two spots, to 39th.

Jobs & Opportunity Index August 2018 race to first

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. The third chart shows the gaps in the official unemployment rate.

Jobs & Opportunity Index August 2018 New England, And U.S.A. Scores

Jobs & Opportunity Index August 2018 Unemployment Rate

Results for the three underlying Jobs & Opportunity Index August 2018 factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI remained 17th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.

Click here for the corresponding employment post on the Ocean State Current.

Center, National Group Rip Bristol-Warren Teachers Union Letter as “Threatening”

Coercive Letter is Designed to Scare Teachers Away from Exercising Their Rights

National Group Concurs!

Providence, RI – With an initial meeting tonight, and in response to the June landmark Janus Supreme Court decision and the My Pay, My Say RI worker freedom campaign launched last week by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, the local Bristol-Warren Education Association (BWEA), desperate to keep dues money flowing, issued an inappropriately “threatening” letter to teachers within its collective bargaining unit, according to a news report on GoLocalProv.com.

The Center and other national labor experts say this letter from the Bristol-Warren teachers union, which over-emphasizes the potential negative consequences of exiting the union, serves as nothing more than a scare-tactic to union members who may not want their dues to support the political activities of the NEA and who may be considering disaffiliation.

Colin Sharkey, Executive Director of the Association of American Educators, a national non-union professional association for educators, when shown the Bristol-Warren teachers union letter shared, “It is disappointing that instead of demonstrating what is valuable about membership and focusing on quality service to members, some unions opted to send letters threatening and misinforming non-members as a way to keep dues flowing. It reminds us why the Supreme Court had to step in to respect the rights of all educators to choose which association to join, but also illustrates how much work still needs to be done to protect those rights. Rhode Island educators, union and non-union alike, deserve better.”

“This letter clearly does not represent the freedom of choice that the Janus decision envisions. The coercive nature of this letter itself may be grounds for legal action, as could any specific misrepresentations made in the letter. Our local and national legal team will soon make a judgment on some of its specific claims,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “It is encouraging that the NEA is complying with the Janus decision in that they are asking each teacher to affirmatively confirm that they choose to pay union dues, however the threatening tone of the letter defeats the purpose.”

Teachers and all state and municipal employees in Rhode Island can learn about their rights at MyPayMySayRI.com. The campaign is designed to inform public servants of their recently restored first Amendment rights, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Janus v AFSCME case.

MyPayMySayRI: It's your paycheck. Union membership is now your choice. Do you know what your newly recognized Janus Rights are?

MyPayMySayRI: It’s your paycheck. Union membership is now your choice. Do you know what your newly recognized Janus Rights are?

The Center, in partnership with the $10 million national education and outreach campaign, My Pay My Say, has already accumulated tens of thousands of email and mailing addresses of government workers. Enough money has been raised to fund phase I of the campaign, which will include thousands of direct mail pieces.

The MyPayMySayRI.com website includes educational information for public employees, with a dedicated section for teachers, and will soon include information on the political spending of certain government unions. The website also includes a page for workers to tell their story if they have unsuccessfully tried to leave their union or have received unsatisfactory responses to inquiries of their employer or union officials.

The website further includes links to an opt-out page where an official letter, requesting exit from the individual’s specific union, can be automatically created and printed, as well as links to a page where individuals can indicate that they choose to remain in their union.

For more information visit the MyPayMySayRI.com website or follow us on Twitter at @MyPayMySayRI .

On the July 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), Rhode Island remains in 47th place in the country.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), July 2018: Quiet Month in Search of a Boom

July found Rhode Island still in 47th place on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI). Of the seven (of 12) datapoints that were updated for the June report, only one was not from the Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs and employment research. Medicaid enrollment was also the only negative marker.

Employment was up from the first-reported number for June by 1,784, while labor force was up 1,082. The larger growth of employment than labor force translated into a drop of the unemployment rate to 4.2%. RI-based jobs increased by 1,400. Also positive were the three alternative measures of employment included in the index. The number of Rhode Islanders who say that they have been unemployed for more than 15 weeks was down by 400 since number last reported. Those saying that they are working part time, but would rather work full time, were down by 1,300. Meanwhile, those who consider themselves “marginally attached” to the labor force held at 4,200. One slightly negative note came with Medicaid enrollment, which increased 197.

Given the improvements in the alternative employment measures, along with the growing labor force, Rhode Island’s rank on the Job Outlook Factor improved from 22nd to 17th. This factor measures Rhode Islanders’ feeling about whether work is available and counts less than the other two factors.

The first chart shows RI still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. New Hampshire still leads the region, with 3rd place, nationally. Maine slipped two spots, from 15th to 17th, while Vermont remained 21st. Likewise, Massachusetts fell from 34th to 35th, while Connecticut remained 37th.

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. The third chart shows the gaps in the official unemployment rate.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI climbed five spots to 17th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.

Click here for the corresponding employment post on the Ocean State Current.

In recognition of National Employee Freedom Week (Aug 19 - 25), and despite the state's attempt to shield public employees from becoming aware of their rights, we have launched our My Pay My Say RI public awareness campaign and our MyPayMySayRI.com website to educate about public employees rights.

Center Launches “My Pay My Say RI” Campaign to Inform Public Employees of Their Restored Rights

Government Unions and Political Cronies Seek to Keep Public Servants in the Dark

Public Education Will Be Biggest Beneficiary!

Many have already opted out!

Providence, RI – In recognition of National Employee Freedom Week (Aug 19 – 25), and despite the state’s attempt to shield public employees from becoming aware of their rights, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity today launched its My Pay My Say RI public awareness campaign on its MyPayMySayRI.com website.

The campaign is designed to inform public servants of their recently restored first Amendment rights, as ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark Janus v AFSCME case. A consistent champion of constitutional rights for all citizens, the Center believes public employees deserve to know that they now have full freedom when it comes to deciding whether or not it is in their best interest to pay union dues; and that they cannot be recriminated against if they choose to leave. Prior to the Janus ruling, all state and municipal employees in Rhode Island were forceed to pay their government-designated unions as a condition of employment.

However, the Supreme Court has decided that because it is their pay, union membership – or not – is rightfully the say of every public worker; especially when workers may disagree with their union’s political advocacy, which is paid for with their dues money.

Case in point is Michelle, a municipal employee in the Ocean State, who opted-out right after the Janus ruling and who said: “I don’t understand why some of my friends continue to pay their dues despite their political views being completely opposite of what the union supports.”

The Center has partnered with the $10 million national education and outreach campaign, My Pay My Say, to launch a customized Rhode Island initiative. “Despite the governor’s and the unions’ efforts to keep public employees in the dark, our Center and our national partner have already accumulated tens of thousands of email and mailing addresses of government workers. We expect to contact them in the coming weeks and ongoing for years,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “We have raised enough money to fund phase I of our campaign, which will include thousands of direct mail pieces. The more money we raise, the more awareness we can create.”

The Center believes that public education will be the greatest beneficiary of the Janus ruling. Because unions can no longer force teachers who disagree with them to fund bargaining positions that tie the hands of educators, teachers will be empowered with a stronger voice to fight against ineffective policies.

The MyPayMySayRI.com website includes educational information for public employees, with a dedicated section for teachers, and will soon include information on the political spending of certain government unions. The website also includes a page for workers to tell their story if they have unsuccessfully tried to leave their union or have received unsatisfactory responses to inquiries of their employer or union officials.

“We respect each person’s right to make an informed decision. It’s unfortunate that unions and their government allies do not,” added Stenhouse. “Based on history in right-to-work states, unions will go to great lengths to obfuscate the truth and make it as difficult as possible for workers to exercise their rights. We have already been contacted by workers who were brushed aside when making honest inquiries about the Supreme Court ruling.”

The website further includes links to an opt-out page where an official letter, requesting exit from the individual’s specific union, can be automatically created and printed, as well as links to a page where individuals can indicate that they choose to remain in their union.

The Center’s multi-year ‘worker freedom’ campaign in the Ocean State had a soft-launch in July and, already, many public employees have opted to leave their union, deciding to keep more of their paychecks for their own families. Ongoing, the My Pay My Say RI campaign will include email, direct mail, traditional and digital advertising, as well as other outreach vehicles.

For more information visit the MyPayMySayRI.com website or follow us on Twitter at @MyPayMySayRI.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity has submitted a public comment on the proposed change to prevent portions of Medicaid payments to third parties for benefits. This change would have dramatic results on the home care unionization rule.

Center Submits Public Comment On Rule Change To Protect The Home Care Industry From Attempted Unionization

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity has submitted a public comment on the proposed rule that would remove a state’s ability to reassign portions of Medicaid payments to third parties for benefits such as health insurance, skills training, and other benefits customary for employees. 

From: “no-reply@regulations.gov” <no-reply@regulations.gov>
To: mstenhouse@rifreedom.org
Sent: 8/6/2018 12:24:20 PM
Subject: Your Comment Submitted on Regulations.gov (ID: CMS-2018-0090-0001)

Regulations LogoYour comment was submitted successfully!

Comment Tracking Number: 1k2-94p4-ty5d

Agency: Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS)

Document Type: Rulemaking
Title: Medicaid Program: Reassignment of Medicaid Provider Claims: CMS-2413-P
Document ID: CMS-2018-0090-0001

Comment:
The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, a 501-C-3 public policy think tank in Rhode Island, respectfully submits comment in support of the proposed rule that would remove the regulatory text at 42 CFR 447.10(g)(4) that allows a state to reassign portions of a provider’s payment to third parties for benefits such as health insurance, skills training, and other benefits customary for employees.

Our comment uses as an example a real-life scenario made possible by 2018 Rhode Island legislation that was signed into law earlier this year … allowing for attempted unionization of the home care industry. This private industry in our state, which now successfully provides vital services, could be decimated.

This proposed Medicaid Provider Reassignment Regulation Proposed Rule, would mean that the government can no longer aid unions in their attempt to skim dues from precious Medicaid dollars, intended for the care of our loved ones.


In Rhode Island, about 7500 or so private home care workers are already represented by about 45 private-employer agencies as well as by a statewide association, the RI Partnership for Homecare. These service providers do not consider themselves to be government workers and most of these workers do NOT want to become a quasi-government employee.

The Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, which oversees most of these private agencies, believes that government-run home care would destabilize the industry.
It is also morally unjust that federal dollars, earmarked for home care services, could have dues automatically siphoned-off by state government unions from workers’ paychecks, then transferred to the unions, with some of the funds ending-up in the political campaign coffers of SEIU. If the proposed rule is enacted, it would be just and proper that 100% of the allocated federal funding for home care services should first go to the workers; and it would then be up to the unions to collect dues – on their own – from those who freely choose to join.Earlier this summer, after a major push by SEIU and other progressive activists, legislation that had been on the back burner was rammed through Rhode Island’s General Assembly and signed by the Governor. This new law could transfer control of the home care services industry from the private sector to the government and its union allies. This proposed rule, by removing the government as its potential partner, would create less of an incentive for SEIU to attempt to unionize this industry.At the same time, the burden on state taxpayers would rise, as the government would surely provide frivolous and unnecessary benefits to allow unions to offer a more compelling reason to unionize.

The new law in Rhode Island seeks to lure home care workers, most of whom are now employed under a successfully operating private ‘agency’ system, to register with the government, becoming quasi-public employees, with their names and other personal information then to be turned over to SEIU labor bosses for the purposes of unionization efforts. A very similar approach was taken in 2013 to unionize the home child care industry; since then, union negotiated – and taxpayer funded – costs to support this industry have since risen dramatically.

This new Rhode Island law is a blatant money and power grab by unions that would crush a smoothly performing private agency system that is providing high quality home care to elderly, Medicaid, and other patients; and essentially turn over control of this industry to overly politicized and incompetent government bureaucrats. The training standards and strict oversight now required of nursing and other home care professionals would be greatly diminished.

Implementation of this proposed federal rule would remove the likelihood that government could insert itself between patients and their home care service providers.

The Center also points out how implementation of this proposed rule would create additional synergy with the direction that the nation is now heading, following landmark Janus decision, which would end the forced unionization and fee payments by public employees. As our country moves towards more freedom and less governmental control over our lives, Americans are experiencing renewed levels of prosperity. Enactment of this rule would maintain this momentum by keeping our state’s home care industry smoothly running under private management and away from the inefficiencies of the political elite and their special-interest allies.

The until-recently unimaginable 4+% growth in national GDP report today should provide a beacon and a wake-up call to voters and to all Rhode Island candidates for office this fall.

Center Challenges Gubernatorial Candidates Following Dynamic 4.1% U.S. GDP Report

Conservative Polices Produce Rapid Economic Growth

Will politicians recognize and learn lessons from federal reforms?

Providence, RI – The until-recently unimaginable 4+% growth in national GDP report today should provide a beacon and a wake-up call to voters and to all candidates for office this fall, according to the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

“For eight years, progressive-left politicians have told us that the ‘new normal’ for economic growth would be limited to the 2% range,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “And for years, our Center and other free-market advocates argued that major tax and regulatory reductions would reverse this course and lead to rapid economic growth; meaning more money and prosperity for families. After today’s 4.1% GDP growth report, there can no longer be any doubt that we were right.”

The Center has repeatedly challenged state lawmakers to #WalkAway from the leftist polices that have kept our Ocean State in the bottom-six on many broad national indexes, including the CNBC business climate, the Family Prosperity Index, and the Jobs & Opportunity Index.

Over the past 18 months, the optimism and growth resulting from the implementation of pro-business and conservative policies at the federal level stand in stark contrast to the stagnation we experienced from liberal and progressive policies: Unemployment rates among virtually all demographic groups are at or near all time lows; personal incomes are rising; and manufacturing jobs that the the left told us were extinct are roaring back by the hundreds of thousands.

We can amplify these results in Rhode Island if we adopt similar polices. However, the Center is concerned that no gubernatorial candidate is providing the bold vision and leadership to achieve this goal. Instead, some candidates offer timid prescriptions, while others seek to take our state backward with failed progressive-socialist schemes.

The Center also challenges voters to demand that candidates clearly articulate their core philosophies: “Are they in favor of rowing our state’s boat with the successful national tide … or against it? Are they for more freedom & unbounded opportunity for prosperity … or are they for more government-control and limited expectations,” suggested Stenhouse.

Center Warns of Litigation in Effort to Unionize Home Care Professionals

Government and Unions Must Comply with New Legal Realities

As nation moves toward freedom, Rhode Island seeks to increase government control over our lives

Political Money & Power Grab by Unions Would Threaten Patient Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 26, 2018

Providence, RI – The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity warns SEIU and the state government that it could face legal peril if they do not fully comply with the new federal restrictions expected to be in place this fall, as it pertains to the attempted unionization of the home care industry.

“The landmark Janus decision by the US Supreme Court, combined with the expected implementation of the Medicaid Provider Reassignment Regulation Proposed Rule by the federal government, means public employees can no longer be forced to support the political agenda of their designated union. It also means the government can no longer aid unions in their attempt to skim dues from precious Medicaid dollars, intended for the care of our loved ones.” explained Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center.

Stenhouse, earlier this month, attended a national symposium in Washington, DC, where it was highlighted that many legal organizations are actively looking for precedent-setting lawsuit cases if unions or their government allies do not comply with the new restrictions on how government unions may collect dues.

Outrageously, in the past and for now, federal dollars earmarked for home care services, could have dues automatically siphoned-off by the state government unions from workers’ paychecks, then transferred to the unions, with some of the funds ending-up in the political campaign coffers of SEIU. If the proposed rule is enacted, 100% of the allocated home care funding must first go to the workers; and it would then be up to the unions to collect dues – on their own – from those who freely choose to join.

“It’s a whole new ballgame,” continued Stenhouse. “And history has demonstrated in other states, unions and their bought-and-owned politician friends, will seek to bend the rules to their advantage. However, many of us are now on watch, and doing so could lead to serious legal ramifications.”

Earlier this summer, after a major push by SEIU and other progressive activists, legislation  was rammed through the General Assembly and signed by the Governor, that would transfer control of the home care services industry from the private sector to the government and its union allies.

The legislation would seek to lure home care workers, most of whom are now employed under a successfully operating private ‘agency’ system, to register with the government, becoming quasi-public employees, with their names and other personal information then to be turned over to SEIU labor bosses for the purposes of unionization efforts. A very similar approach was taken in 2013 to unionize the home child care industry; since then, union negotiated – and taxpayer funded – costs to support this industry have risen dramatically.

The Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, which oversees most of these private agencies, believes that government-run home care would destabilize the industry.

“This is a blatant money and power grab by unions that would crush a smoothly performing private agency system that is providing high quality home care to elderly, Medicaid, and other patients; and essentially turn over control of this industry to overly politicized and incompetent government bureaucrats,”said Stenhouse in June. “The training standards and strict oversight now required of nursing and other home care professionals would be greatly diminished. Why would we want to put government in between patients and their home care service providers?”

The Center also pointed out the incongruity of this legislation and the direction that the nation is heading, following landmark Janus decision, which would end the forced unionization and fee payments of public employees. “Once again, while America is moving towards more freedom and less governmental control over our lives, Rhode Island wants to move in the opposite direction, consolidating centralized-control and planning under the political elite and their special-interest allies,” concluded Stenhouse.

Media Release: Jobs & Opportunity Index June 2018

Jobs & Opportunity Index (47th in JOI) Employment Without Profit June 2018

Providence, RI – Once again, Rhode Island’s positive numbers related to employment weren’t enough to get the Ocean State out of 47th place on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity‘s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI). However, the Freedom Factor, which gauges Rhode Islanders’ employment against reliance on welfare, did improve by one spot, to 41st.
Overall, seven of the 12 data points of the index changed for this iteration. However, data for SNAP (food stamps) has still not changed for Rhode Island since January 2017, owing to the failure of the Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) to work as advertised.
 
“In this month’s report, we are greatly concerned that, despite increased employment, Rhode Islanders’ personal income number is actually down by $307 million,” said the Center’s research director, Justin Katz. “That state and local taxes still managed to increase by $53 million is an additional red flag.”
Despite an improvement in rank on the Freedom Index, Rhode Island’s JOI number lost ground against the  U.S. average and is even farther behind the average for New England.
Additional charts and details of each of JOI’s three sub-factors can be  viewed here.
Jobs & Opportunity Index June 2018

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), June 2018: Employment Without Profit

Rhode Island’s 47th place ranking on the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) remains intact. However, of the seven (of 12) datapoints that were updated for the June report, only the three related to Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs and employment research were positive. Additionally, SNAP (foodstamp) data remains unchanged for Rhode Island because of “system reporting issues” since January 2017.

On the positive side, employment was up from the first-reported number for May by 1,631, while labor force was up 860. The larger growth of employment than labor force translated into a drop of the unemployment rate to 4.3%. RI-based jobs increased by 2,100.

On the negative side, Medicaid enrollment increased 956. Annualized personal income (including investments) fell $307 million, while state and local taxes increased $53 million. Rhode Islnad was one of only four states to see personal income actually fall with the latest report.

These discouraging results, however, were not enough to bring down any sub-index rankings, and the Freedom Factor went up (see below).

The first chart shows RI still in the last position in New England, 47th on the in the country on the Jobs & Opportunity Index June 2018. New Hampshire still leads the region, but fell to 3rd place, nationally, with Utah joining Wyoming in the top 2. Every other New England state held steady, with Maine at 15th, Vermont at 21st, Massachusetts at 34th, and Connecticut at 37th.

Jobs & Opportunity Index June 2018

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. The third chart shows the gaps in the official unemployment rate. In all cases, the Ocean State lost ground.

Jobs & Opportunity Index June 2018

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI remained 22nd.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI improved one place,
    to 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.

Click here for the corresponding employment post on the Ocean State Current.

The Janus case could provide right-to-work protection for all public employees in the country. Right-to-work means a union cannot get a worker fired for not paying dues or fees.

STATEMENT: Center Applauds SCOTUS Ruling on Janus case; Public Education to Benefit

More Worker Freedom From Janus Case Will Lead to Reduction in Union Power

Public Education Should be Greatest Beneficiary of Janus Case

Providence, RI — According to the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, today’s landmark decision in the Janus case, which grants workplace freedom to public employees, means that public unions will have significantly less power and money to block legislation and influence elections. “The greatest public benefit will be improvement in public education,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Many education reforms that would improve schools in disadvantaged communities are prevented by union collective bargaining agreements. If unions are no longer able to force teachers who disagree with them to fund their bargaining positions, unions will have less power to impose ineffective policies into contracts.”

#WorkerFreedom