October 11 Press Conference

Press Conference: October 11, 2012; 11:45 AM; Legion Bowl and Billiards; 661 Park Ave, Cranston, RI

“Get Government Out of the Way”

A Free-Market Approach to Improve RI’s Economy

Mike Stenhouse & Jonathan Williams at the Center's press conference

Media Information

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity will present a free-market public policy approach as the most effective approach to improve the Ocean State’s economy. A national expert from Washington, D.C. on state fiscal policy will also provide his perspective. Rhode Island has sharply deviated from free-enterprise principles … and is suffering the consequences. A rigorous public debate must ensue before the state embarks on any new path. In recent weeks, public forums and special reports have already generated much debate about commerce czars, public-private partnerships at institutions of higher education, what the private sector can do, and grappling with questions like “who’s in charge” of changing our Ocean State’s economy. However, none of these approaches directly address the most fundamental and obvious problem: what to do about the government created public policy barriers to success that have restricted economic and individual opportunity, resulting in the worst business climate in the country and the most dismal jobs outlook of any state in our Union. Rhode Island is losing the competition among states, both regionally and nationally, for the precious human and capital resources that are vital building blocks for a vibrant and growing economy that can produce good jobs for its citizens. In this regard, Rhode Island is failing, as evidenced by the Center’s Report Card on RI Competitiveness. Each sub-par grade on the report card represents one more government created barrier that businesses and individuals must overcome in order to succeed. Tearing down these barriers, one by one, with public policy reforms that free-up businesses and workers is the best path our state can take. Further studies and resources are not necessary in this regard: either we double-down on RI’s current high tax-and-spend and regulation approach, or, we reverse course and adhere to a free-market approach. Other states are already racing to establish their own competitive advantages; the Ocean State must keep pace and we do not have the luxury of time to delay action. To unleash our state’s great potential, we must develop a broadly attractive business climate, with a lower tax and regulatory burden for all businesses and individuals that will naturally foster renewed economic activity. It will be less productive to spend time and resources towards an approach that leads to a croynized or politicized strategy that favors certain business sectors, geographical regions, or specific business ventures. The lessons learned from other state laboratories, regarding which policy reforms will enhance economic growth and which will impede growth, have been extensively studied and are now plainly evident. The Center has itself already researched many of these issues within the Ocean State and has released specific policy recommendations via its Prosperity Agenda for Rhode Island, as part of its free-market approach: encapsulated in a 1-page, 3-step summary that will be presented at the press conference on October 11. To reinforce this concept, Jonathan Williams, author of Rich States, Poor States, has also conducted extensive research in this area and is a national expert on state fiscal policy. He will offer his analysis on Rhode Island and will discuss winning and losing public policy trends in other states. IF YOU PLAN ON ATTENDING The event is open to all members of the media and to friends of the Center. As the venue is a private business place, the event is not open to the general public. If you plan to attend, please email info@rifreedom.orgso that we can add your name to the participant list.


Jonathan Williams is a national expert on state budgets and economic policy and author of the book, Rich States, Poor States. Williams will provide detailed insight into how Rhode Island generally compares with other states in its approach to fiscal public policy. Jonathan Williams is the director of the Center for State Fiscal Reform and the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where he works with state policymakers, congressional leaders, and members of the private sector to develop fiscal policy solutions for the states. Prior to joining ALEC, Williams served as staff economist at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, authoring numerous tax policy studies. Williams’s work has appeared in many publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Investor’s Business Daily. He has been a contributing author to the Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report and has written for the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In addition, Williams was a contributing author of “In Defense of Capitalism” (Northwood University Press, 2010). Williams has testified before numerous legislative bodies and spoken to audiences across America. He is a frequent guest on talk radio shows and has appeared on numerous television outlets, including the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Fox Business News. Williams was also the recipient of the prestigious Ludwig von Mises Award in Economics.

Mike Stenhouse is CEO for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. A Harvard University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, he was previously the Executive Director of the Ocean State Policy Research Institute. Stenhouse is a frequent guest on many local talk-radio shows, has appeared on many cable mainstream news shows, and contributes frequently to the Providence Journal commentary pages. Prior to beginning his career in the public policy arena, Stenhouse, a former Vice President on the board of directors for RI Special Olympics, was a small business owner and also worked for a Fortune 500 company (Staples) and served as an executive for a $50+ million dot-com company (MyTeam.com). Upon his graduation from Harvard, Stenhouse had an eight-year professional baseball career, including time with the American League Champion Boston Red Sox in 1986, the Minnesota Twins, and the Montreal Expos.

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