Providence Journal article confirms that Center operates in a nonpartisan manner, and in full-compliance with federal law.

The “full” story about our Center

The recent front-page Providence Journal story about our Center did not tell the whole story. You deserve to know. Click on …

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Center Recommends Transfer of HealthSourceRI to Federal Government

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; January 16, 2014                              

Providence, RI – Following the Governor’s Wednesday night address and after initial review of his 2015 budget, where it is obvious that state funds will soon be needed to continue operation of the state’s healthcare exchange, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a nonpartisan public policy think tank, today called on public officials to consider termination of the state’s operation of the HealthSourceRI exchange, and instead transfer its management to the federal government, which currently operates exchanges in dozens of other states.

The exchange was originally formed in Rhode Island by executive order by Governor Chafee as part of the implementation of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which made federal funds available for its construction through the end of 2014. It is anticipated that subsequent operation of HealthSourceRI could cost Ocean Staters over $20 million per year.

“The exchange is a federal mandate, it is very expensive to operate, and it is clear that we cannot afford it once federal funds expire. Our own General Assembly rejected operation of the exchange in the first place, so how can we justify burdening Rhode Island taxpayers with footing the bill,” asked Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center, which plans to conduct further research into exploring the feasibility of executing this transfer.

 
The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a nonpartisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. The Center works to make a profound, positive impact on the lives of every family and business in the state through the rigorous exchange of market-based ideas and reform solutions aimed at restoring economic competitiveness, educational opportunities and – ultimately – hope for a brighter future.

Media Release: Center Calls for Postponement of Child Care Unionization Election

October 1, 2013

Providence, RI — 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 or not upwards of 680 home child care providers should accept the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as their exclusive union representative.

According to a press release this morning by the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, the U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it is granting a writ of certiorari in a case that will decide whether Illinois home-care providers can be forced into union ranks against their will. The Harris-vs-Quinn case challenges a forced-unionism scheme enacted by Illinois Governors Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn on the grounds that it violates their rights to free expression and association by forcing them to subsidize union lobbying.

Earlier in the month, the Center called on the Rhode Island SLRB to merely delay the election until it publicly commented on and evaluated a ruling in mid-September from the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that granted an injunction to stop a similar planned election in Minnesota, pending action from the U.S. Supreme Court. Today’s announcement creates an even stronger argument to hold off on the 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.”

Earlier this month, the Center published a report highlighting concerns that unionization may cause for taxpayers, service providers, and other independent business owners.

Stenhouse discusses issue on WPRI-12 NewsMakers … 

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Center to Conduct “Child Care Union 101′ Seminars

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  – September 18, 2013

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity announced today that it will conduct a series of “Child Care Union 101” seminars this coming Saturday for home child care providers, including a bi-lingual session.

To raise awareness among providers who will participate in an upcoming election about whether or not to accept the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as their exclusive union representative, the Center has received funding to launch a public awareness campaign, with the goal of reaching as many of the 580 providers as possible, in order to provide them with important information before they vote.

The campaign, which kicked off with a post-card mailer this past weekend to providers, will also include social media and telephone outreach.

The private seminars for home child care providers will be conducted by Jennifer Parrish, a child care provider who for years has been organizing providers in Minnesota, and whose organization, the Coalition of Union Free Providers, is partnering with the Center to provide information about the impact that unionization may have on the family child care profession. According to Parrish, “when providers have access to this information, they overwhelmingly oppose unionization.”

The three “Child Care Union 101” Seminars to be held on Saturday September 21, are:

* 10:00AM – 12:00PM (Bi-lingual); Riverside Library 475 Bullocks Point Avenue, Riverside, RI

* 1:00PM – 3:00PM  Cranston Knights of Columbus Hall 1047 Park Avenue #3, Cranston, RI

* 3:30PM – 5:30PM North Providence Free Library 1810 Mineral Spring Avenue, North Providence, RI

Providers can RSVP at the Coalition’s website:  www.childcareunioninfo.com.

Earlier this week, the Center published a report introducing the concerns that unionization may cause for taxpayers, service providers, and other small business owners. The full report can be viewed here.

 

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Center Calls on Labor Relations Board to Revise Child Care Unionization Ballot Language

View the official petition to SLRB here … 

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity is calling on the State Labor Relations Board to revise the proposed language on the ballot in the upcoming election that will determine whether or not upward of 580 private contractors – that provide child care services in their home to clients who receive state-subsidized assistance – will become unionized.

The Center recommends a simple revision that more clearly defines the reality of the the options that these childcare providers are being forced to consider. Per a recent report in the Providence Journal, the ballot question currently reads: ‘Do you desire to be represented for the purpose of collective bargaining by Service Employees International Union, District 1199, NE or by no provider representative.”

This language is devoid of the word ‘exclusively’, and, therefore, does not appropriately highlight an important provision that child care providers should be made aware of; that such representation would be exclusive to SEIU, and that by voting to unionize, providers will be forced to petition their state government through an involuntary association. As previously argued by the Center, this may be in violation of their constitutional right to freedom of association.

The Center recommends that the ballot language should be revised to read: ‘Do you desire to be represented for the purpose of collective bargaining exclusively by Service Employees International Union, District 1199, NE or by no provider representative.’

“Many providers, who today proudly call themselves independent business owners, free to make their own decisions about how best to operate their business, are concerned that, after the election, they may be involuntarily reduced to the status of unionized state employees, subject to the agenda of national and international unions, forced to pay dues, and forced to be represented exclusively by the state’s hand-picked monopoly union”, said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center.

Following remarks this past weekend (@ 9:00 minute mark) on WPRI-12’s Executive Suite by AFL-CIO union boss, George Nee, the Center is also concerned that the child care unionization effort is a ‘Trojan Horse’ and just the first of of many planned steps of organized labor where other independent contractors and small business owners across the state will soon also be forced to unionize (e.g., child care centers, home health care providers, landlords), providing even more financial and political clout to unions, and creating a further drag on the state’s already stagnant job market and bloated budget.

Related Links:  Unionization of Child Care Providers May Be Unconstituional

School Choice Essay Contest Winners

Read Tiffany’s essay here …  Read Bryan’s essay here …  Listen to Tiffany and Bryan on the Helen Glover Radio Show 920WHJJ-AM

Media Release: July 31, 2013

Providence, RI — In celebrating “Friedman Legacy Day 2013”, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity will award prizes today to Tiffany Rezendes and Bryan Morillo, the top two essayists in a private essay contest it conducted with the youth-run empowerment organization, People United For Change, based in the Wiggins Village section of Providence.

Friedman Legacy Day is an annual celebration of the life and work of Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize winning economist and one of the early pioneers of school choice in America. Today would have been Friedman’s 101st birthday.

Tiffany Rezendes and Bryan Morillo were announced as the top two essayist in the 2013 Milton Friedman Legacy Day Essay Contest celebration. Thanks to People United for Change for partnering with our Center.

Tiffany Rezendes and Bryan Morillo were announced as the top two essayist in the 2013 Milton Friedman Legacy Day Essay Contest celebration. Thanks to People United for Change for partnering with our Center.

Essayists were asked to write about how school choice has, or may have, made a difference in their lives or in someone they know. Both winners attended Providence district schools and each will receive an IPad donated by a Board member of the Center.

“A major assertion of Milton Friedman was echoed as a common theme in the personal essays we received; namely, that poor families are most affected by a lack of school choice,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the Center. “He believed that residents of low-income neighborhoods, more than any other population, are disadvantaged as to the quality of schooling they can get for their children.”

Rezendes, 20, wrote about how one of her closest friends dropped out of high school due to a lack of a challenging curriculum in her Providence school, with no option to choose a school that was better suited to her interests, and how “she just gave up once she found out she wasn’t accepted into Classical because all her hopes of having a great education had to be lowered to settle for a below average school experience.”

Morillo, 17, discussed how lack of choice in schools “condemned the students of providence (sic) to an attitude of ‘sit at home and collect a check’ … ” because of a curriculum that left many “unprepared for the real world”, and “making it easy to simply go through the motions …”

People United for Change is a youth-run organization based at Wiggins Village in Providence, focused on empowering people to bring about positive and meaningful change, through unity, to the city of Providence and the state of Rhode Island.

Read Tiffany’s essay here …

Read Bryan’s essay here …

ABOUT the Contest

The School Choice Essay Contest asked students to write about how school choice could have positively affected their life, or someone close to them. Essays were scored from 1-10 in each of four categories: emotional appeal, realism, defense of school choice, and quality of writing. Each of the five judges read and scored each essay.

JUDGING PANEL

Dr. Angela Dills, PhD – Economics Professor, Providence College. Doctor Dills has championed school choice for several years through research and speaking.

Matthew Fabisch – Attorney, Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights. Matt has worked extensively on the legality and principles surrounding school choice.

Creusa Michelazzo – Providence-based small business owner. Macremi specializes in PR, production, and community/business development.

Akash Chougule – Outreach Coordinator, RI Center for Freedom. Akash conducts the Center’s youth outreach to state and national liberty organizations.

Tyler Tassinari – Student, Arizona State University and Center Intern. Tyler is spending his summer doing school choice research for the Center.

Center Assembles Expert Panel for Sales Tax Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  May 13, 2013 

Providence, RI — Hailed as the largest tax cut and economic stimulus plan the state of Rhode Island has ever considered, an expert panel has been assembled by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity to testify at Wednesday’s hearing of the “Sales Tax Repeal Act of 2013” (H-5365) in front of the RI House Finance Committee on May 15, at 1:00 pm in Room 35 at the RI State House.

The panel is comprised of: Scott Moody, the national economist who authored the original Zero.Zero Sales Tax report in 2012, which inspired the bill sponsored by Rep. Jan Mailik (D-67); Paul Bachman, from the Beacon Hill Institute, which developed the STAMP modeling program that produced the job and revenue projections used in the Zero.Zero reports; the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse; and the Center’s research director, Justin Katz.

The updated 2013 Zero.Zero report showed that as little as $105 million in budget savings could put the Ocean State on the path towards 25,000 new jobs and a re-invigorated economy, if the state were to repeal its onerous sales and meals tax.

“This is the only game-changing reform idea out there for a state economy that desperately needs a game-changing idea”, said Stenhouse. “This is a reform that would immediately save money for every family and business, and that would attract out-of-state shoppers to our state. Because of the regressive nature of the sales tax – and eliminating it would help low-income families most – we are seeing support from across the political spectrum. We invite all members of the public to attend the hearing and see how this plan can put Rhode Islanders back to work.”

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-partisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. With a credo that freedom is indispensable to citizens’ well-being and prosperity, the Center’s mission is to stimulate a rigorous exchange of ideas with the goal of restoring competitiveness to Rhode Island through the advancement of market-based reform solutions.

Online Merger of The Ocean State Current and Anchor Rising

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity announced today that its online journalism and commentary wing, The Ocean State Current, will be merging the content of Anchor Rising into a single location on The Current’s existing website and URL.
The co-branded joint venture, launched today at OceanStateCurrent.com, will now also feature content from an experienced team of Anchor Rising contributors who set the standard for conservative blogging in Rhode Island, including Andrew Morse, Marc Comtois, Monique Chartier, and Patrick Laverty.

Founded in 2004, Anchor Rising is Rhode Island’s most prominent blog for conservative news and commentary about politics and public policy. Justin Katz, one of Anchor Rising’s founding members, and editor of The Ocean State Current, also serves as the Center’s research director. “Moving the state forward toward less-waning waters’ is arguably no longer sufficient at a time when the keel appears to be scraping the bottom of the bay. We’ve reached the point of dredging, and that requires greater focus and greater unity of purpose”, said Katz.
RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity CEO Mike Stenhouse says, “With this new quality content, we feel the Current-Anchor website is now the premiere online opinion area for advancing free-market, small government views in the entire state.We also intend to continue producing hard-hitting investigative journalism pieces as with the recent stories about excessive overtime payments to government workers.”

Anchor Rising’s deep archives will remain in their original locations on the Internet, and readers can access the original archive site through the arvhive link on the new, combined page.

Media Release: Only $105 Million in FY-2014 Needed to Implement 0.0% Sales Tax

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 25, 2013

2013 Zero.Zero Sales Tax Report

Center Calls on Politicians to Act on Promises: 25,000 Jobs at Stake

Providence, RI — On the heels of bi-partisan legislation to repeal the state’s sales and meals taxes, submitted recently in the Rhode Island General Assembly, the Rhode Center for Freedom and Prosperity released today an updated version of its landmark 2012 Zero.Zero report, which served as the original basis for the legislation.

The 2013 Zero.Zero report, which provides updated economic and revenue projections from the RI-STAMP economic modeling tool, estimates that up to 25,000 jobs can be created in the Ocean State as a result of the massive economic boom that would be created through elimination of the sales tax.

“Eliminating the sales tax would provide immediate benefit to all Rhode Islanders, especially lower income families; and for businesses, this means more shoppers, higher revenues and profits, and lower compliance costs,” explained Mike Stenhouse, CEO of the Center.

With an immediate incentive for area shoppers to purchase goods and services in the Ocean State, Rhode Island businesses would quickly realize a significant advantage over their southern New England competitors. Further, up to $900 million dollars would be left in Rhode Islanders’ pockets to reinvest in the state’s economy.

Based on monthly cash flow analysis, the 2013 Zero.Zero report estimates that 2014 budget savings of only $105 million would be required if creating tens of thousands of jobs becomes the top priority for the state. This goal can be achieved by eliminating the sales tax as of October 1 of this year; by applying last year’s budget surplus; by freezing the 2014 budget at 2013 levels; and by realizing the projected increases in other revenue categories.

“How can we afford not to do this?” asked Stenhouse. “If state leaders are serious about creating renewed opportunities and a brighter economic future that will help keep our families together and at home here in Rhode Island, we call on them to act upon their recent promises to make economic development the number one priority for our state.”

The report, which provides detailed revenue projections and budget saving ideas in a number of categories, discusses three major areas where the state could replace sales tax revenues over the long term: 1) Over 65% would be made up via higher income tax and other receipts, as a result of more people shopping, working and receiving higher wages in the state; 2) Natural savings in public assistance outlays as more residents earn paychecks instead of welfare checks ; 3) Budget savings in other areas such as corporate welfare, social services waste and fraud, and excessive state worker compensation.

As an added and significant benefit, cities and towns are expected to see local revenue increases of approximately $150 million, mostly from a larger number of businesses paying local commercial property taxes as a result of the economic boom, which could lead to local property tax reductions for families or a reduction in aid from the state.

The full 2013 report, with additional details and analysis and information about RI-STAMP, can be found at www.rifreedom.org. The Zero.Zero sales tax recommendation is part of the Center’s larger “Win-Win” Legislative Solutions agenda for Rhode Island in 2013.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-partisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. With a credo that freedom is indispensable to citizens’ well-being and prosperity, the Center’s mission is to stimulate a rigorous exchange of ideas with the goal of restoring competitiveness to Rhode Island through the advancement of market-based reform solutions.

Media Release: Win-Win Policy Solutions for RI in 2013

Win-Win Policy Recommendations to keep families at home in RI!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

January 23, 2013

After statewide political leaders failed to put forward any bold new policy reforms to grow the Ocean State’s struggling economy, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity published today its Legislative Solutions for 2013, a set of seven “win-win” policy solutions aimed at keeping families together in their Rhode Island homes.

With the worst jobs outlook in the entire nation, as one of the highest cost of living states, and suffering from a severe population and out-migration crisis, public policy in Rhode Island is tearing families apart by driving away loved family members.

With the goal of restoring competitiveness to the state, the Center’s proposed solutions will drive down the cost of living and conducting business in the state and will provide expanded options to parents of disadvantaged students.

“We have heard from the Governor, the House, the Senate, and others, yet no one is proposing any serious reforms”, said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “The Political Class restricts itself with undue concern about how to fund such an obviously failed budget; a budget that has resulted in persistent misery and unemployment; a budget that has grown significantly faster than it need have. Can anyone seriously question whether or not this is a budget that deserves to be blown up? It’s time for a new game plan and to start playing to win around here”, he continued.

As the state with the highest level of ‘redistribution of income’, the Center asserts that Rhode Island is the most anti free-market state in the entire country. The dismal national rankings most Rhode Islanders have sadly become all too familiar with are a direct result of this futile approach.

“And all we hear from the progressive wing is even more of the same tired, unsubstantiated dribble about taxing the rich. Can’t we all see that it is indeed their approach that is now a well substantiated failure”, inquired Stenhouse. “That the left’s win-lose and lose-lose polices that seek to subsidize some, at the expense of others, is actually hurting all of us? We need to decrease the cost of living for low and middle income families and provide them with renewed job opportunities; and, yes, we also need to keep wealthy individuals here at home in Rhode Island.”

With these needs in mind, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity recommends the following win-win legislative items for 2013:

  • Repeal of the “Sales Tax”: would add tens of thousands of new private sector jobs and boost the state economy.
  • Repeal of the “Minimum Corporate Tax”: would remove barriers to new business start-ups and encourage entrepreneurism.
  • Repeal of the state “Estate Tax”: will help keep Rhode Island as home to business owners and wealthy citizens.
  • Expand “School Choice” Options: empower parents to decide which schools are in their children’s best interests.
  • Super Majority Tax Act: would require a two-thirds majority to pass any future tax increases.
  • “Pension Transparency” Act: ensure accurate accounting and reporting practices so that retirees and taxpayers know where they stand.
  • “Electricity Freedom” Act: repeal costly renewable portfolio mandates so that energy costs can be reduced for households and businesses.

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity previously published a long term legislative plan for the state, a Prosperity Agenda for Rhode Island, from which most its 2013 recommendations are derived.

 

The full report, with additional data, tables, analysis, and methodology can be found at:

http://www.rifreedom.org/2013/01/win-win-legislative-solutions-for-ri-in-2013/

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-partisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. With a credo that freedom is indispensable to citizens’ well-being and prosperity, the Center’s mission is to stimulate a rigorous exchange of ideas with the goal of restoring competitiveness to Rhode Island through the advancement of market-based reform solutions.

 

Media Contact:

Mike Stenhouse: 401.429.6115info@rifreedom.org