Center Opposes All Three Ballot Questions

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity urges Rhode Island voters to reject all three 2018 ballot bond questions as too costly, near-sighted, and overly geared toward special interests.

Question 1, the largest bond question, would put Rhode Island significantly further into debt by spending a whopping $250 million to repair school buildings (and would ask for another $250 million in 2020), and is also flawed because it:

  • Bails out irresponsible city/town and school officials who have misappropriated existing local tax receipts by neglecting to address school building repairs over the years.
  • Lacks any long-term vision or strategy in planning for the anticipated educational environments of the future.

“Of course, no one wants unsafe schools,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse, “but when we are talking about this much of a new burden on taxpayers, it is imperative that we are strategic in how we deal with this problem.”

More details on Question 1 below.

Question 2 asks taxpayers to fund $70 million in non-vital new higher education facilities that would mostly benefit other states, as far too many of our college and university graduates end up leaving the state in search of meaningful work. Until we develop a growing economy that can absorb new young workers entering the jobs market, this bond spending would not provide a good return on investment.

Question 3, an extension of the RhodeMapRI scheme, advances a dubious green-economy strategy by spending $47.3 million on a multitude of politically correct sustainable-development projects.

Special-Interest Government Spending Does Not Replace Grassroots Development. All three ballot questions are designed to help special-interest cronies. Because of Rhode Island’s dismal business climate, including a burdensome tax and regulatory structure, our state’s economy is not attracting enough grassroots private money for major capital projects. Instead, seeking work and dues from their employees and members, construction company insiders and labor union officials continually pressure government to spend taxpayer money on unnecessary public-works projects. Taxpayers also suffer a “double hit” because, unlike privately-financed projects, these government-funded boondoggles require abnormally high “prevailing wages” and mandate other costly pro-labor mandates.

Already Too Much in Debt. All three ballot questions would worsen an already burdensome debt problem. Historically, Rhode Islanders pass almost all bond questions that make it to the ballot, and no indications have emerged that this election will be any different.  If anything, consensus that the Ocean State’s public schools are in deplorable condition is translating into even-greater-than-usual consensus that we ought to saddle taxpayers with another $250–500 million in debt.

Broadly, Rhode Island is relying too heavily on debt to cover its bills.  The Mercatus Center at George Mason University puts Rhode Island’s long-term liabilities at 90% of the state’s assets, which is higher than the average state.[1]  Truth in Accounting’s State Data Lab gives Rhode Island a D for finances, with $8,288,881,000 in bonds and other liabilities, plus another $4,316,527,000 in pension and other retirement liabilities.[2]  A recent Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council (RIPEC) report finds Rhode Island already among the worst states when it comes to debt per capita and debt per income.[3]

More debt is not the answer to the Ocean State’s problems; it is a major problem in itself.  Adding $589,462,045 in principal and interest by passing the three ballot questions will make it worse.

The State of Rhode Island and its municipalities must be more prudent with the tax dollars they already collect — for example, prioritizing school-building maintenance over more frivolous projects.

More on Question 1. The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity agrees that our education infrastructure is in lamentable shape, but we encourage Rhode Islanders to vote to reject Question 1’s new borrowing on the ballot.

Wrong to “bail out” irresponsible local officials. Focusing on the biggest ballot question — the $250 million school construction bond — the incentives that it would create will be damaging, as well.  Making this money available to local school districts that have been negligent in maintaining their infrastructure will only reinforce their habit of letting basic maintenance slide in order to fund other priorities, like above-market-rate increases to government worker compensation.  The legislation allowing these bonds to go on the ballot provides insufficient incentive for our cities and towns to change their ways. Further, it is unfair to ask state taxpayers to bail out local communities.

What do the “education futurists” say? Taking an even broader view, we should also question the wisdom of making these massive investments when our society is changing so quickly.  What will education look like 20 years from now?  What sorts of spaces will students require?  The weight of debt will hinder Rhode Island’s ability to adapt and to innovate in the future.

The Center does not believe it is prudent to burden Rhode Islanders with decades of new debt in order to rebuild an arguably obsolete, century-old school model, especially when new educational-environment models are rapidly evolving.

Many “education futurists” no longer envision that large and cold school buildings with walled-off classrooms will be how our children will be taught in the coming years. Creating more-productive learning environments that take advantage of ever-evolving Internet and other technologies could mean that home-based or large online-lecture type instruction may increasingly become the norm. This educational vision would require a far different kind of school campus than what this half-a-billion taxpayer-funded bond might be wasted on.

The Center is not aware of, but is open to review, any kind of long-term strategic educational plan that would justify massive investment in a potentially soon-to-be defunct school model.

2018 Middendorf “Pillar of Freedom” Award Winner

View previous winners here …

Dr. Daniel Harrop

2018 J. William Middendorf “Pillar of Freedom” Award Honoree

With a lifelong record of helping people both professionally and philanthropically, Dr. Daniel Harrop personifies the three pillars that our Center’s annual award is based upon: 1) Entrepreneurial or free-market business leadership, 2) Civic engagement, and 3) Record of philanthropic giving or charitable organization volunteerism.

In the area of professional accomplishment, Dr. Harrop, for many decades, has been a leader in the Rhode Island medical community as a certified psychiatrist. With a B.A. and M.D. from Brown University, along with an MBA from the Edinburgh Business School, Dr. Harrop is a licensee or certified member of over a dozen psychiatric and medical associations in numerous states. In addition to his private practice Dr. Harrop has served as President of the RI Psychiatric Society and the RI Catholic Medical Society, was a faculty member at the Brown University and Harvard Schools of Medicine, a staff member at RI and Butler Hospitals, and was RI Medical Director for United Behavioral Systems at United Healthcare. Additionally, dozens of other professional associations, publications, presentations, staff work, and leadership are not listed here.

With regard to civic engagement, Dr. Harrop is one of Rhode Island’s most honored members of the Catholic Church, having been knighted into the church’s distinguished “Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre” in 2008 by Pope Benedict. He is also a Grand Knight in the Providence Knights of Columbus.

Dan also served as President of the Brown Club of RI as well as the Brown Faculty Club, among other civic leadership posts; and he is the only active member of the original ‘medical advisory board’ appointed in the 1980’s in response to Rhode Island’s ‘workers compensation’ crisis. To top it all off, he’s also a Notary Public.

Harrop is President of the Sons of the American Revolution, and has held leadership roles with the Sons of the Union, Veterans of the Civil War, and the RI Historical Society. He currently leads an initiative to raise awareness about the Battle of Rhode Island during the American Revolution; not to mention a Board member of the Nathaniel Greene Homestead Assoc.

Dr. Harrop has further been a shaman of Ocean State politics since 1980, when he co-chaired RI Physicians for Reagan, and more recently as a major donor to the RI GOP and as chair of the Providence GOP. He was a two-time candidate for Mayor of Providence and for General Assembly – and self-funded his campaigns – just so the Republican brand would be on the ballot. Dr. Harrop was also a successful litigant against the RI Board of Elections when he challenged and defeated, as un-constitutional, a state law that capped annual political gifts from individuals.

Philanthropically, Dr. Harrop is one of the larger donors to the Catholic Diocese of Providence and is a patriarch in support of the Christian Holy Land. He funds a major scholarship in his name at the Brown Medical School and also funded “Harrop Theater” at his alma mater, Bishop Hendricken High School. Many more charitable gifts not listed here.

But “Doc” claims, other than donating his time and treasure to his faith, that his most fulfilling act of civic responsibility was serving as founding Chairman of the RI Center for Freedom of Prosperity, which has become the state’s leading voice advocating for the free-enterprise system and challenging the policies of the entrenched status quo. Quite simply put, without Dr. Daniel Harrop … our Center would not exist.

Polarized and passionate, yet civil, debate is healthy for our democracy.

Polarized And Passionate, Yet Civil, Debate Is Healthy For Our Democracy

CEO Mike Stenhouse argues that polarized and passionate, yet civil, debate is indeed healthy for our democracy in a recent OpEd in the Providence Journal. Click on the button below now to read the full version on their website. 

Following the recent Providence Journal-sponsored “Publick Occurrences” panel discussion at Rhode Island College, I’d like to share some thoughts I did not have the chance to put forth.

The premise – “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?” and the polarization of public discourse – gives us two factors to consider: 1) disagreements over the role of government and 2) level of civility of debate. Most panelists agreed there have always been divisive political issues in America: the Federalist Papers, slavery, civil rights, the Vietnam War, etc.

Polarized and passionate, yet civil, debate is healthy for our democracy, no matter the topic or how deep the divisions. But sadly, our nation’s history is riddled with violent incidents – even war – over some of those debates.

Worse, there is an increasingly pernicious national culture that makes today’s debates even more divisive than yesteryear’s.

As the panel discussed, we have become a tribal nation, of sorts. Special-interest and identity-politics factions are constantly seeking special benefits. Activists-for-profit and well-funded organizations exploit divisions to stoke public rage. Social media allow hate-filled word-bombs to be safely lobbed from behind internet devices. Educational and judicial systems eschew historical and constitutional values to conform with political correctness fads. And biased media irresponsibly fan the flames.

September 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index

September 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI): And Back Down Again

As somewhat expected, an update to income numbers lost Rhode Island its improved rank on the September 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) from the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, bringing the Ocean State back to 47th in the country. Six of the 12 datapoints in the index were updated for September, although Rhode Island remains the only state not updating its SNAP (food stamp) data, due to the UHIP debacle.

Employment was up from the first-reported number for July by a small 170 people, while the labor force actually dropped 319. In keeping with these results, RI-based jobs came in exactly the same for September, after having dropped significantly the month before.

Unfortunately, the number of Rhode Islanders relying on Medicaid went in the opposite direction, following a drop last month with an increase of 439 enrollees. When it comes to SNAP, the inability to update the numbers may be hurting Rhode Island, inasmuch as 45 states saw a reduction in this benefit, which registers as a positive for the index. Meanwhile, annualized personal income was up 4%, which wasn’t enough to prevent the Ocean State from losing ground compared with other states.

The Ocean State saw no change in any of the subfactors that go into its overall JOI ranking. The drop in place to 47th resulted from New York’s 6% increase in income.

The first chart shows RI last in New England. New Hampshire leads the region, with 3rd place, nationally. Vermont was steady at 13th, while Maine held 16th. Massachusetts also did not move, from 35th, but Connecticut managed to gain a spot, to 38th.

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.

Unemployment Rate Rhode Island

September 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index

Results for the three underlying September 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index 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.

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 Responds to Mis-Informed Attack by R.I. Attorney General

Attorney General Kilmartin Makes Unsubstantiated Claims and False Assertions

A.G. should seek to champion constitutional rights … not obfuscate them

Providence, RI – With the expectation the state’s top law enforcement official would work to preserve and advance the constitutional rights of his state’s citizens, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, in seeking to educate public workers about said rights, responds to an intimidating statement from Attorney General that attempts to obfuscate workers free exercise of those rights.

By joining Rhode Island’s Governor in seeking to shield public employees from becoming fully aware of their recently restored rights, the state’s Attorney General made a number of unsubstantiated and false claims in a media release from his office yesterday. The Center, along with its national partner, last week launched its My Pay My Say RI public awareness campaign on the 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 decision; that workers cannot lose their job or otherwise suffer consequences if they choose not to support the political activism of their union officials by opting-out as a dues-paying member.
The target of the A.G.’s release, termed as an “outside group”, was obviously aimed at the Center and its public awareness campaign. The release, ostensibly, intended to “provide clarity” on the rights of government workers, only served to muddy the waters with a number of unsubstantiated, false, and contradictory assertions.

In claiming My Pay My Say RI  is a “campaign to misinform public sector employees,” the A.G. does not substantiate his attack by providing any evidence or even citing one specific data point that he feels is misleading.

It is false that the Janus decision “only affects … previous fair share agency fee” payers. All public employees are impacted by the Supreme Court ruling. Every worker now has the full freedom to disaffiliate and, as the AG contradicts himself in his own statement, now must affirmatively consent to paying dues.

In discussing “confusion about the rights of … public sector workers” and employees “falling victim to potential misinformation,” per reports and feedback the Center has received from the rank and file, it is union officials themselves who are disseminating misinformation, including the false and potentially illegal responses that:

  • The Janus ruling does not apply to Rhode Island or to one particular firefighter union
  • Those who may choose to exercise their right to opt-out of paying dues to their union would no longer be eligible for promotions or for overtime work
  • Anyone wishing to opt-out of union membership must wait until the end of their current collective bargaining agreement.
  • Just days ago, the Center exposed a threatening letter from a local union to its members in an attempt to coerce them to remain in their NEARI union.

“These responses by union officials – to honest questions by honest workers seeking to make the best decisions for themselves and their families – are blatantly false,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “I am more convinced than ever that the public service we are providing for public servants is very much needed. It is outrageous that high ranking government officials would conspire to keep public employees in the dark. Nothing we are doing warrants a response from the Attorney General.”

There were additional problems with the Attorney General’s statement.

It is an incorrect assertion that the “outside group” (the Center’s My Pay My Say RIcampaign) is educating public employees on how to “disaffiliate from their collective bargaining units.” It is not legally possible, as far as the Center has been advised, to do what the AG suggests. The campaign does provide an option for workers to opt-out of their government designated union; but public employees, whether they choose to pay union dues or not, legally remain part of the larger collective bargaining unit. It is disconcerting that the chief legal officer of the State of Rhode Island is not aware of this legal nuance.

In no way does the My Pay My Say RI campaign interfere with the legal right for workers to to collectively bargain or for public employees to perform their often vital services, as the A.G.’s statement implies. The Center agrees with the A.G. in supporting the “critical role” of public sector employees.

Finally, the Center also agrees with the A.G. that it is “critical that (workers) seek advice… from (a) reliable source.” However, it is the information on the MyPayMySayRI.com website that is reliable. Conversely, and as evidenced in this statement, misinformation and intimidation put forth by union officials is not reliable.

In July the Governor issued a directive, advising state agencies from providing contact information of public employees from outside groups (that may want to inform them of their rights).

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

An SEIU postcard mailer obtained by the Center, combined with the fact that legislatively scheduled Home Care Pay Raises have not been implemented, leads to serious questions about whether or not the Raimondo administration and the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) conspired.

Center Questions if SEIU and Raimondo Administration Colluded in Delaying Home Care Pay Raises

Legislative Home Care Pay Raises Delayed.
Purposely done to aid SEIU?

Is this another case of unions and government conspiring to keep workers in the dark?

Providence, RI – An SEIU postcard mailer obtained by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, combined with the fact that legislatively scheduled raises have not been implemented, raises serious questions about whether or not the Raimondo administration and the Services Employees International Union conspired to assist SEIU in making a dishonest appeal to unionize these home care providers.

The postcard, which deceptively seeks to compel home care workers to contact SEIU if they haven’t received their promised pay raises, may be further evidence of government collusion with public sector unions to keep workers misinformed.

As highlighted by the Center in its recently launched MyPayMySayRI.com campaign, incomplete and often incorrect information from unions is routinely put forth not only to its own members, but apparently also to those they are recruiting.

Did the Raimondo administration purposely delay implementing the provider pay increase so that SEIU might have a larger opening to recruit them?

Critical aspects of this story were confirmed by Center this morning after reaching out to the RI Partnership for Home Care (RIPHC), the state association that oversees the dozens of private agencies that employ over 7,000 home care providers.

Here is the timeline:

  • January – the Governor’s proposed budget does NOT include a pay raise for home care workers reimbursed by Medicaid funds
  • February – House and Senate bills introduced, establishing a process to unionize home care workers under SEIU. Hearings later conducted, bills held for further study.
  • Early June – House SubA budget (Article 13) includes 10%-20% reimbursement rate increase for home care providers
  • Mid June – General Assembly passes and governor signs budget, including home care pay raises that are to be implemented by July 1, 2018.
  • Late June – SEIU unionization bills suddenly re-appear and are quickly ushered through the General Assembly and signed by the governor
  • Early July – Governor Raimondo issues a directive to shield state worker contact information, so they cannot be apprised of their rights by outside groups
  • Mid July – RIPHC is informed by RI Department of Health and Human Resources that the legislated reimbursement increases would not take effect until at least October 1
  • Early August – SEIU officially endorses Governor Raimondo for governor
  • Late August – SEIU sends out thousands of postcard mailers, seeking to capitalize on the pay increase delay

The SEIU postcard deceptively makes it appear as if the home care agencies received the legislative reimbursement rate increases … but that that they were not passed on to the individual providers in the form of a pay increase. The RIPHC has promised its home care service providers that virtually all reimbursement increases would be passed on to them, however, the agencies have not yet received the scheduled increases.

Was this part of a grand, corrupt scheme? Further investigation is required.

“The idea that hard working Rhode Islanders would have their take home pay purposely held down so that the government can give an advantage to its SEIU special interest friends … is unconscionable,” exclaimed Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “As I have noted before, turning over control of this industry to overly politicized and incompetent government bureaucrats is the wrong direction for our state. Why would we want to put government and unions in between patients and their home care providers?”

The Center also points out the incongruity of this “SEIUnionization” attempt and the direction that the nation is heading. After the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the landmark Janus case, which ended the unconstitutional practice of forced payments by public employees to unions, it is clear that America is moving towards more worker freedom and less governmental control over our lives. However, long-time union activists and their crony allies in the government want to move Rhode Island in the opposite direction, seeking to consolidate centralized-control and planning under political insiders and their special-interest allies.

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.