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

The Center opposes legislation that would lead to the unionization of the home care industry. If enacted, the safety of patients would be put at risk, while Rhode Island families and businesses would be forced to pay higher taxes to support exorbitant union demands.

Center Opposes Legislation to Force Unionization of Home Care Professionals

Political Money & Power Grab by Unions Would Threaten Patient Safety

Citizens concerned about the care of their loved ones can contact their lawmakers online

Forced SEIU unionization would fly in the face of expected U.S. Supreme Court ruling

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 19, 2018

Providence, RI – The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity opposes legislation that would lead to the unionization of the home care industry, against the will of the nurse assistants and other professionals currently providing services to home-based patients. If enacted, the safety of patients would be put at risk, while Rhode Island families and businesses would be forced to pay higher taxes to support exorbitant union demands.

Outrageously, some of these higher taxes, intended for home care services, would be siphoned-off by unions, and will end-up in the political campaign coffers of SEIU.

According to the Center’s sources, H7803 may soon be resurrected from its “held for further study” status and will be re-considered following a major push by SEIU and other progressive activists who are seeking to give government control over the home care services industry. S2734 Sub-A was passed by the entire Senate in late May.

The legislation would force all home care workers, most of whom are 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.

Concerned citizens are requested to support an online ‘contact your lawmaker’ drive against the legislation, spurred by the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care, which 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 Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “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 points out the incongruity of this legislation and the direction that the nation may soon be taking, following next week’s expected U.S. Supreme Court decision in the landmark Janus case, 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,” warned Stenhouse.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), May 2018: What There Is Is Positive

Although Rhode Island remained in 47th place on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), the four (of 12) datapoints that were updated for the May report were positive. Unfortunately, one datapoint was not updated for Rhode Island even though it was updated for every other state. The latest SNAP (foodstamp) table from the federal Food and Nutrition Service added a new footnote highlighting that “system reporting issues” have meant no new RI numbers since January 2017.

Turning to the numbers that are available: Employment was up from the first-reported number for April, by 1,489, while labor force was up 1,117. RI-based jobs increased, as well, by 1,000. Medicaid enrollment improved from the previously reported number, with a decrease of 1,281.

The first chart right shows RI still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. Regional leader New Hampshire is still in 2nd place, nationally, behind Wyoming. Maine made progress toward the nation’s top 10, up two steps to 15th, while Vermont remained in 21st place. Massachusetts managed to return to the 34th slot that it had lost last month. Meanwhile, Connecticut held on to 37th.

Rhode Island remained in 47th place on the Jobs & Opportunity Index May 2018. Unfortunately, one datapoint was not updated for Rhode Island even though it was updated for every other state. The latest SNAP (foodstamp) table added a new footnote highlighting that “system reporting issues” have meant no new RI numbers.

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on Jobs & Opportunity Index May 2018. In both cases, the Ocean State gained a little ground. The same was true of the official unemployment rate, shown in the third chart.

Rhode Island remained in 47th place on the Jobs & Opportunity Index May 2018. Unfortunately, one datapoint was not updated for Rhode Island even though it was updated for every other state. The latest SNAP (foodstamp) table added a new footnote highlighting that “system reporting issues” have meant no new RI numbers.

Rhode Island remained in 47th place on the Jobs & Opportunity Index May 2018. Unfortunately, one datapoint was not updated for Rhode Island even though it was updated for every other state. The latest SNAP (foodstamp) table added a new footnote highlighting that “system reporting issues” have meant no new RI numbers.

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

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI improved one place, to 22nd.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 42nd.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.

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

Rhode Island lawmakers - female and male - experienced first-hand the safety and fun of natural hair braiding at a cultural exhibition yesterday at the State House.

Center Calls on Senate to Act after House Unanimously Passes Hair-Braider Freedom Bill

Will Senate Continue to Block This No-Brainer Legislation?

Second year in-a-row Legislation receives unanimous House vote!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 15, 2018

Providence, RI – For the second straight year, the Senate is on the spot to act on hair-braider freedom legislation passed unanimously by the House. In 2017, they failed. The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity calls on the Senate to remove the unfair regulations that prevent low-income families from legally earning additional income – or a living – through the practice of the safe craft of natural hair-braiding.

In a 69-0 vote yesterday, H7565 was passed in the House. An identical bill appears again to be stalled in the Senate. The legislation would exempt natural hair-braiders from the onerous cosmetology licensing mandates that demand thousands of hours of unrelated training and tens of thousands of dollars worth of irrelevant classes.

It is unknown why the Senate is blocking such common-sense legislation, especially given that many other states have recently removed similar protectionist and burdensome measures.

Unlike in 2017, however, there is a Senate companion bill this year, S2323, sponsored by Senator Dawn Euer, who is actively working to overcome the inexplicable hold-up in her chamber. In May, many Senators enjoyed a free and fun natural hair-braid outside their chamber on RI Freedom Braiders Lobbying Day.

“We thank the House for recognizing the obvious and we appreciate the work that Senator Euer continues to invest in attempting to move this no-brainer legislation in the Senate,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “The March Senate Commerce Committee hearing produced no credible opposition to the legislation, but did bring out many current cosmetologists who want to selfishly protect their industry from new competition.”

Despite a large and unexpected revenue windfall and clear policy lesson, resulting from the recent federal tax and regulatory cuts, Rhode Island's political leaders appear to have wasted an opportunity for reform and, instead, are seeking to maintain the status quo in the FY2019 Budget.

FY2019 Budget Graded a “D-” by the Center; a “Wasted Opportunity”

Federal Tax Cut Windfall “Wasted” in Maintaining Status Quo

Lack of job-producing reforms demonstrates lack of vision for a better future for Rhode Islanders!

Providence, RI – Despite a large and unexpected revenue windfall and clear policy lesson, resulting from the recent federal tax and regulatory cuts, Rhode Island’s political leaders appear to have wasted an opportunity for reform and, instead, are seeking to maintain the status quo in the FY2019 Budget.

In lieu of returning tens of millions of windfall revenues to tax-paying families and businesses, the General Assembly’s proposed FY-2019 budget, released late Friday, actually increases spending and does nothing to improve the Ocean State’s dismal business climate. Given that even recent years’ budgets have attempted some minor tax relief, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity has graded the budget as a ‘D-minus’, the same grade it issued last year.

“The lack of vision, in failing to recognize this opportunity to improve our state’s competitive landscape, is disappointing,” exclaimed the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “The money to cut taxes was there. Unfortunately, it will be wasted and spent, rather than reinvested in the people of Rhode Island so they can achieve a brighter future.”

Currently, Rhode Island ranks in the bottom-10 on three broad national indexes; overall business climate, the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), and the Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI).

No pro-growth programs. According to the Center’s analysis there are no new, meaningful job-producing or pro-family tax reforms in the proposed budget.

Some transfer or neutral items. The continued phase-out of the hated car-tax for local taxpayers leads directly to offsetting higher tax burdens for families and businesses statewide. The elimination of the governor’s proposed cigarette tax hike, as well as most of her proposed agency “scoops”, are welcomed, but do not lead to any net economic benefit.

Multiple economy-busting items dominate the budget. While there are no major leaps backward, such as single-payer health insurance or a statewide carbon tax, the few positive or neutral items in the budget are more than offset by the many and more substantially negative items, including:

  • Increased budget spending rate of 3.8% ($317 million) is far greater than the rate of inflation and population growth would otherwise suggest.
  • Broadening of the sales tax into new business sectors. Last year it was Amazon and other Internet providers; this year it’s software as a service (SAS) and armored car services – each worsens RI’s overall business climate.
  • $250 million school infrastructure bond – another bailout for municipalities. Once again the state will increase its already high debt burden to provide money to municipal school districts, which themselves have been negligent in managing the already high tax revenues they collect from local taxpayers, by failing to have adequately maintained school buildings.
  • Corporate welfare spending is maintained. Money spent on corporate tax-credit incentives could be re-purposed to reduce corporate taxes, creating a more level playing field.
  • Raises to state government workers, politically motivated in an election year, far exceeds inflation trend (7.5% compensation increase over next 3 years vs 3.5% inflation over past 3 years).
  • Sin taxes becoming more prevalent. Projected sports gambling revenues, as well as dramatically increased medical marijuana dispensary fees, will make it more difficult in the future for the state to reverse policies that incentivize potentially unhealthy social behaviors.
Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on cars, cash, and other private property by government today.  According to the Institute for Justice, the Ocean State received a D- for its asset forfeiture laws. Please watch the new asset forfeiture video from the Center now.

Why Rhode Island Needs Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform

“It is absolutely mind-boggling… that people that feed you, in one of the most historical oldest industries in this country, can’t go to sea and land that fish that feeds you without being treated like criminals,” said Richard Fuka, President of RI Fishermen’s Alliance

Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on cars, cash, and other private property by government today.  According to the Institute for Justice, which produces a state-by-state report card, the Ocean State received a D- for its asset forfeiture laws. Please watch the new asset forfeiture video from the Center now.

Contradicting the testimony of officials from the Attorney General's office on forfeiture reform legislation, a new report shows that over 93% of all cash and property seized by civil asset forfeiture to the government from 2015-2016 were for low dollar amounts.

Asset Forfeiture Reform: State Data Contradicts Opposition from AG and Law Enforcement Agencies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 29, 2018

Asset Seizures in Rhode Island Overwhelmingly Involve Smaller Dollar and Property Values

AG and other law enforcement agencies over-emphasize larger criminal enterprises as basis for their opposition

Providence, RI — Contradicting the testimony of officials from the Attorney General’s office and other state and local law enforcement agencies, a new report from the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights using the State’s own data, shows that over 93% of all cash and property forfeited to the government from 2015-2016 were for low dollar amounts; not the higher-valued assets typical of ‘major criminal enterprises’, as is the basis of law enforcement’s opposition to proposed civil asset forfeiture reform legislation.

Seeking to lead the way for civil rights and responsible government, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is seeking to advance 2018 legislation that would completely re-write the state’s asset seizure and forfeiture laws. The House bill, H7640, and the Senate bill, S2681, were heard in their respective Judiciary Committees in recent weeks. The legislation is a continuation of last year’s successful package of Justice Reinvestment Initiative reforms, which were passed and signed into state law.

“Today’s report from the Hopkins Center clearly supports our claim and directly refutes law enforcement’s argument,” said Mike Stenhouse. CEO for the Center, which has been long-time defenders of private property rights.

Unlike the “wealthy drug lords” and other “big fish” that were the focus of law enforcement’s opposition testimony, a report published earlier this year by the Center suggested that it may actually be low-income and minority communities – the “little fish” – who suffer disparate impacts from poorly written state forfeiture laws. The report also cited Rhode Island’s D minus grade in a recent Institute for Justice report for its weak civil forfeiture laws as a basis for completely re-writing this section of state law.

One such “little fish” victim in Rhode Island, as fully described in the written testimony by Michael DiLauro, Assistant Public Defender, was Domingo Grullon, who had about $2,000 seized by the government and, despite charges being dropped, was never able to successfully reclaim his cash because of the overly-complex burden placed on innocent property owners by current state law. The reform legislation requires a conviction before the government can maintain permanent possession of seized assets.

The legislation, co-written by the Center and the Hopkins Center, would reform Rhode Island’s asset forfeiture statutes and would:

  • Raise the bar for when government may seize property in the first place
  • Lower the bar by which innocent citizens can reclaim their property
  • Increase transparency so that public officials and citizens can provide appropriate oversight
  • Enhance administration to increase the credibility of law enforcement
  • Increase budget accountability to remove perverse incentives for seizure

The Center’s report, as well as additional related information, can be found on the Center’s website, here.

New brief from the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights summarizes data regarding asset forfeitures that directly contradicts recent testimony of the office of the Attorney General made in opposition to House Bill 7640 and Senate Bill 2681, An Act Relating To Criminal Procedure – Asset Forfeiture.

Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights: Media Release & Report on Rhode Island Asset Forfeiture

For Immediate Release:
May 29, 2018

Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights Releases Data Brief Responding to Testimony of Office of Attorney General Kilmartin

Report of General Treasurer Showing Average forfeiture of only $1,524.00 Contradicts Rhode Island Attorney General’s Testimony Opposing Asset Forfeiture Reform Legislation

Providence – Giovanni D. Cicione, Esq., Chairman of the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights, a non-profit legal advocacy group, today released a data brief which has been transmitted to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. This brief summarizes data regarding asset forfeitures that directly contradicts recent testimony of the office of the Attorney General made in opposition to House Bill 7640 and Senate Bill 2681, An Act Relating To Criminal Procedure – Asset Forfeiture.

Rhode Island’s civil asset forfeiture law has received a grade of “D-“ from the Institute for Justice, who produces a state by state report card on the topic. As the law works today, law enforcement can seize and keep property and cash from individuals even when they haven’t been convicted of any crime. For property to be returned, owners must prove by a preponderance of evidence that their property is not forfeitable, which is a huge burden especially for those without means to pursue such claims. Over the years, a number of states have reformed their forfeiture laws to better protect innocent individuals, while Rhode Island has lagged behind. Legislation is before the General Assembly which aims to change that.

Joe Lindbeck, lobbyist for Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, testified at both the House and Senate Judiciary committee hearings in opposition to legislation which would require a criminal conviction before seized assets may be forfeited. Ms. Lindbeck asserted in both hearings that the proposed reforms would serve only to protect drug cartels and drug kingpins.

The Hopkins Center reviewed data collected by the Rhode Island General Treasurer on forfeiture cases in in 2015 and 2016, which was provided to us and requested under the Rhode Island Access to Public Records Act. The Center then aggregated and analyzed that data in order to assess the realities of how the law is currently being used. The results are clear – the majority of forfeitures were for small dollar amounts, not the type of cash or property “wealthy drug lords” have on hand.

“The data speaks for itself,” noted Chairman Cicione, “but it is worth emphasizing that the median value of all 2016 forfeitures—cash and property—was less than $1,600. Over 85% of cash forfeitures involved $5,000 or less, and only 11 out of 241 cash forfeiture cases involved $10,000 or more, whereas 23 forfeitures were for $500 or less.” “The smallest amount of cash forfeited was $116, and we don’t even know if this person was convicted of any crime before his or her cash was forfeited”, continued Cicione.

“We would ask Attorney General Kilmartin to reconsider his opposition to these reforms given the hard realities of the data and their previously discussed disparate impact on communities of color,” concluded Cicione.
The mission of the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights is to protect the rights that Americans recognize as fundamental. The Hopkins Center litigates in areas of fiscal responsibility and transparency, school choice, free speech, and property rights to assist individuals the government has harmed, and ensure all Rhode islanders enjoy their constitutional rights.

Despite some positive numbers, Rhode Island couldn’t shake its 47th place ranking on the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) in April 2018

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), April 2018: The Bottom of the Rising Tide

Despite some positive numbers, Rhode Island couldn’t shake its 47th place ranking on the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) in April 2018, and even slipped on one of the three subfactors of the index. On the Job Outlook Factor, which gauges Rhode Islanders’ optimism about job opportunities, the Ocean State fell five spots, to 22nd in the country. Overall, eight of the 12 data points of the index changed for this iteration.

Employment was up from the first-reported number for March, by 975, while labor force was up 842. RI-based jobs increased, as well, by 1,000. Medicaid enrollment improved from the previously reported number, with a decrease of 907, while SNAP (food stamps) showed no change. (Reporting problems related to the Unified Health Infrastructure Project may be an issue, here.)

Alternative measures of unemployment were also updated. Long-term unemployment (15 weeks or more) fell a little, by 200 people, while significantly fewer people (1,300) say they are involuntarily working only part time. Another 800 Rhode Islanders say they are “marginally attached,” meaning that they would potentially like to work, although the data does not indicate whether this change of attitude represents a move toward or away from job searches.

The first chart at shows RI still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. Regional leader New Hampshire is still in 2nd place, nationally, behind Wyoming. Maine and Vermont remained in place, at 17th and 21st, respectively. Again, Massachusetts fell one, to 35th, while Connecticut held on to 37th.

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. In both cases, the Ocean State lost a little ground. The same was true of the official unemployment rate, shown in the third chart.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI fell five slots to 23rd.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 42nd.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.