STATEMENT: P3 Legislation Applauded as More Efficient Delivery Model for Infrastructure Upgrades

NEW: Failing RI Report Card Grades Not Advancing Social Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2015

Non-Competitive Grades Harming Work, Mobility, and Opportunity for Rhode Islanders
Preponderance of Fs and Ds Should Signal Need for Change in Policy Culture

Providence, RI — The opportunity for upward mobility for many Ocean Staters continues to be hampered by a non-competitive business climate and onerous family tax burdens, as evidenced by the poor grades the State of Rhode Island received on the 2015 Report Card on Rhode Island Competitiveness, the fourth annual such report, released today by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

Burdened with public policies that discourage work and a productive lifestyle, the state’s poor grades in 10 major categories (two F’s, seven D’s, and one C) reflect a government culture geared to benefit special interest insiders, while at the same time promoting job-crushing and soul-crushing dependency among the general populace.

Raising even further alarm, Rhode Island ranked dead-last, overall, when compared with report cards from other New England states.

“This report card clearly demonstrates the wreckage that decades of liberal policies have wrought upon our state. These unacceptable grades should be a wake-up call to lawmakers that a government-centric approach is not producing the social justice and self-sufficiency that Rhode Islanders crave,” suggested Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “If we want to provide more mobility and opportunity for our neighbors and entrepreneurs, we must completely reform our public policy approach. We must learn to trust in our people and remove the tax and regulatory boot of government off of their backs by advancing policies that empower the average family with choices, that reward work, and that grow the economy.”

The two categories with F grades are Infrastructure and Health Care; the seven D’s are Business Climate, Tax Burden, Spending & Debt, Employment & Income, Energy, Public Sector labor, and Living & Retirement in Rhode Island; while Education received a C-. Among the 52 sub-categories evaluated, Rhode Island received 19 F’s, 24 D’s, 5 Cs, 3 Bs, and just one lone A.

In a related 1-page brief, the Center also analyzes report card trends over recent years as well as comparisons to grades for other New England states.

The RI Report Card, originally developed for the Center by a national economist, compiles into a single document the state rankings among key economic and social indexes, as published by dozens of credible 3rd party national organizations.

The 2015 report card, with citations, as well as reports from prior years can be downloaded at RIFreedom.org/RIReportCard.

Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 | info@rifreedom.org

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The mission of the 501-C-3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

P3: a Compelling Delivery Model for Governor’s Proposed Infrastructure Upgrades

A P3 Model would bypass the troubled RI DOT and enable a private sector partner to deliver vital bridge and road repairs in a timelier, safer, and less costly manner. WOULD REMOVE ALL RISK OF COST OVER-RUNS FROM RHODE ISLANDERS!

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Gary Sasse on RhodeWorks: Leaving No Stone Left Unturned

State Leaders Should Remember that Rhode Island’s Transportation Funding Crisis Evolved Primarily From Debt- Driven Financing Practices

Statement from Gary Sasse:

A recent Hassenfeld Institute public opinion survey found that 76% of Rhode Islanders felt the State was  spending too little on road and bridge maintenance. This finding is consistent with the bipartisan agreement that Rhode Island’s bridges urgently need to be improved.

The key question that the General Assembly will need to address is what would represent the most efficient, economically neutral and fairest way to finance and deliver a bridge safety and improvement initiative. To answer this question the General Assembly has four optional approaches it may choose to consider.

The first is the Governor’s plan that is financed by borrowing backed by truck toll revenues. The second is a PAYGO plan that has been recommended by House Republicans. This plan would be financed by reallocating existing resources, and would not contain new tolls, fees or taxes. The third option, put forward by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, constitutes a P3 public-private partnership between the State and private partner. The private partner, in exchange for pre-determined revenue guarantees, would finance, repair and maintain bridges for an agreed upon time. The final option is a hybrid PAYGO- debt plan would be based on some additional public debt, but also the use of current general revenues.

In studying these options state leaders should remember that Rhode Island’s transportation funding crisis evolved primarily from debt -driven financing practices. These practices have served to inhibit the state’s ability to properly maintain its roads and bridges. Therefore, in considering the best way to finance and deliver a bridge improvement program, the General Assembly should remember that borrowing is expensive. The most costly public debt may occur when there is a limited history with a new revenue source and any debt financing should be designed to avoid the carrying charges of issuing a large bond upfront.

While the REMI study provided additional information about the economics of the Governor’s truck toll proposal, questions remain regarding the impact of this proposal on sectors of the Rhode Island economy and operationalizing the tolling system.

In order to serve the best interests of the Rhode Island taxpayer, the General Assembly should take the time to fully evaluate all four options, leaving no stone left unturned.

About the Author:

Gary Sasse is the director of Bryant University’s Institute for Public Leadership. He is a former executive director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, and for several years directed the state’s Department of Revenue and Department of Administration during the Carcieri administration.

 

STATEMENT: REMI Toll & Bond Report Overstates Benefits; New Model Next Week

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 3, 2015

Economic Drawbacks Under-Stated, Benefits Overstated
Pro Government Spending Analysis is Not Balanced with Free Market Analysis

Providence, RI – As projected months ago, the economic development analysis released yesterday by the Raimondo administration, conducted by Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), is based on pro government spending theory that under-states the negative impact of extracting new funds out of the private sector economy, and does not take into account the more traditional free market economic theory, according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

“On the one hand, and obviously, when hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on a project like this there will be a near-term boost in jobs and economic activity, as the REMI report suggests,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “However, on the other hand, there is also a negative ongoing impact on the economy through the imposition of new tolls, taxes, or fees. The REMI model minimizes this effect, while free market models normally project a greater long-term negative impact to economic growth.”

The Center plans to release a policy concept paper next week that will put forth an alternative funding and delivery model, that would complete the vital bridge and road repair project at a lower cost and in a more timely manner, while also removing risk of likely cost overruns from taxpayers or ratepayers.
Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 | info@rifreedom.org

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The mission of the 501-C-3 nonprofit organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.

Making RhodeWorks Work for Rhode Islanders

[button url=”http://rifreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/ricfp-makingrhodeworkswork-071315.pdf” target=”http://rifreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/ricfp-makingrhodeworkswork-071315.pdf” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ]Click for full “Making RhodeWorks Work” report[/button]

As an alternative option to fund repairs of the Ocean State’s crumbling bridge and road infrastructure, a “pay as you go” approach that prioritizes current general revenue in the budget would provide budget certainty and save over half a billion dollars in wasteful, non-productive financing and overhead costs for Rhode Islanders, compared with Governor Gina Raimondo’s RhodeWorks plan, which increases Rhode Island’s debt burden and tolls the trucking industry to pay for it.

Specific savings that can be achieved by adopting a Pay As You Go approach include:

  • $563 million in interest costs
  • $49 million in financing debt and service reserve costs
  • $43+ million in tolling infrastructure (gantries and administration)

Cuts to corporate welfare and other non-essential spending programs can pay for the project instead. Prioritizing infrastructure spending in the state’s existing budget, there would be no need to identify significant new sources of revenue that would drain money from the private sector, make Rhode Island even less competitive with our neighbors, and place unnecessary downward pressure on an already stagnant state economy.

Taxpayers also should not automatically accept the historically high cost of road and bridge repair and construction in our state.
Instead of enriching insider interests such as Wall Street financial institutions, labor unions, and large union-shop contractors, taxpayers should demand fiscal discipline and restraint by limiting the scope of the RhodeWorks project to what Rhode Islanders actually need and can afford.

From a process perspective, Rhode Islanders are fed up with non-transparent backroom deals among insiders that shut out the voice of the public. Few details of the plan’s financials have been released. It is also questionable from a constitutional and ethical point of view whether or not a bond of this magnitude can be, or should be, authorized without a vote of the people.

RhodeWorksvTruePriorities-costs-web

[button url=”http://rifreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/ricfp-makingrhodeworkswork-071315.pdf” target=”http://rifreedom.org/wp-content/uploads/ricfp-makingrhodeworkswork-071315.pdf” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ]Click for full “Making RhodeWorks Work” report[/button]

Second-Year Report Card: Lack of Bold Action = Lack of Improvement

Related Links: 2012 Report Card

It isn’t surprising that a year of no bold legislative or executive action to free the Rhode Island economy or education system from its shackles, or to lighten the heavy hand of government, was a year of no significant improvement in the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s annual Report Card on RI Competitiveness.

What changes the Ocean State saw in the report card’s ten major categories came in large part due to changes of the subcategories, a technical change in the Center’s methodology, and tiny shifts that were able to cross a line into a new letter grade.  In 2012, Rhode Island had five grades of F, two of D-, two of D, and one of D+. In 2013, the tally is three of F, four of D-, one of D, and two of D+. (One of the lost Fs was purely a change in the method of ranking states.)

The sheer number of below-average grades does much to explain Rhode Island’s continuing economic decline and population exodus.

“For all the talk last year about the positive legislative steps we supposedly took, the state’s dismal grade point average has barely moved”, said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “We’ve all seen the depressing headlines, but when compiled into a single report, the report card shows how poor public policy is strangling economic opportunities for families in our state.”

The report card organizes 53 national rankings into the following major categories:

  • Tax Burden (D-)
  • Business Climate (F)
  • Spending & Debt (D-)
  • Employment & Income (D-)
  • K-12 Education (D+)
  • Energy (D+)
  • Infrastructure (F)
  • Public Sector (D)
  • Health Care (D-)
  • Living & Retiring in RI (F)

Whether the decision is thoroughly researched or simply based on impressions, these are the categories on which the Ocean State is judged when businesses and individuals make important decisions about their lives and their economic well-being. Having the information all in one place may be discouraging, but it gives those with a vested interest in the health of the State of Rhode Island clear guidelines for what problems must be addressed.