2013 Rhode Island General Assembly Freedom Index Snapshot

Download: Freedom Index 2013 Scorecard Snapshot

Rhode Island families can expect further downward pressure on their prosperity this year as a result of the actions of their own elected officials, based on a snapshot scoring of 55 tracked bills already voted on through May 22 of 2013.

Overall, the RI General Assembly has garnered a negative (-54.7) rating on its overall “Freedom Index”.  Further, not a single state legislator rated in positive figures.

The annual General Assembly Freedom Index by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity scores Ocean State lawmakers on their level of support for principles of freedom as proven by their votes on the floors of the House and Senate. This preliminary scorecard provides a snapshot of the scores as of May 22, 2013, so that voters and legislators can develop a better-informed evaluation of their progress and priorities as the General Assembly approaches its final push.

The index examines legislators’ votes in terms of their likely effect on the free market, the size and scope of government, the balance of residents’ interests against those of public employees and beneficiaries, and the constitutional structure of a divided government with limited power over the people whom it represents. The Center reviewed every bill submitted in either chamber and collected votes tallies for those that received roll-call votes on either floor. (Companion bills only count once.)

The resulting scores give a detailed sense of each legislator’s priorities beyond a few high-profile issues. Each legislator’s votes can be found on RhodeIslandVotes.org, and full vote tallies and bill weightings will be published with the final index as described below.

The Center further divided the bills into five categories:

  • Tax & budget: bills that affect the tax structure in Rhode Island and/or that relate to government expenditures, just driving or relieving the pressure on taxation
  • Regulatory environment: bills that make it more or less difficult to live and do business in the state by imposing regulations
  • Constitutional government: bills that affect the structure of the government, as well as the scope of government in its authority over residents’ lives
  • Public sector labor: bills related to the relationship between its employees and itself and the electorate
  • Education reform: bills that advance or impede the reform of the state’s public education system, in terms of both cost and quality

Most legislation has implications for more than one of these categories. For the purposes of this index, we applied our subjective sense of the area of core effect and sorted the bills accordingly. If, for example, a bill having to do with education seemed to us intended to secure the role of public employees, we classified that bill as Public Sector Labor, not Education Reform.

Download: Freedom Index 2013 Scorecard Snapshot

2013 Freedom Index Findings

Fifty-five (55) different pieces of legislation (counting companion bills once) were evaluated. The Center judged 41 of them as having a negative effect on freedom.

The average legislator index score of -54.7 indicates that the General Assembly has been moving Rhode Island in the wrong direction, and that Rhode Islanders will be less free than they were in 2012. By comparison, last year’s average index score was -25.4, so this legislative session has so far been more destructive than the previous. This index underscores our Center’s view that the 2013 RI General Assembly is not positively addressing the dire business and living climate of our state.

Top and Bottom 10

House Senate
Top 10 Bottom 10 Top 10 Bottom 10
1 Chippendale -14.8 75 Edwards -80.6 1 O’Neill -30.9 38 Goldin -49.1
2 Giarrusso -33.3 74 Williams -77.8 2 Hodgson -33.8 37 Cool Rumsey -49.1
3 Trillo -33.3 73 Valencia -77.8 3 Picard -33.6 36 Goodwin -48.2
4 Newberry -40.7 72 Slater -77.8 4 Bates -34.6 35 Satchell -47.7
5 Costa -40.7 71 Silva -77.8 5 Kettle -34.6 34 Crowley -46.8
6 Morgan -42.6 70 Shekarchi -77.8 6 Cote -34.6 33 Pearson -46.8
7 San Bento -45.4 69 Serpa -77.8 7 Algiere -35.0 32 Lombardo -46.8
8 Nunes -48.2 68 Palangio -77.8 8 Raptakis -35.9 31 Archambault -45.5
9 Corvese -54.6 67 O’Grady -77.8 9 Ciccone -36.4 30 Jabour -45.5
10 Carnevale -56.5 66 Messier -77.8 10 Ruggerio -37.7 29 Sosnowski -45.5

 

Other findings include;

  • Average House index of -68.0 (from 2012 average of -24.1)
  • Average Senate index of -41.8 (from 2012 average of -27.9)
  • Average Democrat index of -62.1 (from 2012 average of -33.5)
  • Average Republican index of -35.0 (from 2012 average of 16.5)
  • Average Regulatory Environment index of -78.3 (from 2012 average of -49.0)
  • Average Tax & Budget index of -44.3 (from 2012 average of-26.0)
  • Average Constitutional Government index of -17.6 (from 2012 average of -9.1)

Download: Freedom Index 2013 Scorecard Snapshot

Index Overview

The Center selected legislative bills for inclusion in the Freedom Index if they were deemed to have an effect on free-market, small-government, or constitutional principles, with each bill assigned a positive or negative weighting based on the criteria listed below. Weighted points for each bill were given to each legislator based on his or her roll-call vote on it.

Each legislator’s final Freedom Index was calculated as his or her score’s percentage of the total possible points. A positive score indicates a 2013 voting record that generally protected individual and economic freedoms, while a negative score reflects the opposite.

Disclaimer: It should be noted that the total Freedom Index score generated for each legislator is a direct reflection of the perspective of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity when it comes to the weighting of each bill. The Freedom Index is not an absolute measure of a legislator’s merit and does not constitute any endorsement or individual criticism. The Freedom Index is a tool designed for general research and for accountability, giving voters some quantitative metrics for their own assessments as to their elected legislators’ performance.

For more detailed notes and methodology, download the PDF:  Freedom Index 2013 Scorecard Snapshot

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