Fat Tuesday = Fat Rhode Island

March 3, 2014
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RI one of only five “Fat Tuesday” states!

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Rhode Island ranks among the five worst “Fat Tuesday States” when it comes to bloated interest expenses on debt per person, according to  data released yesterday by Truth In Accounting, and commented on today by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a nonpartisan, state-based think tank. Taking on new bond projects would worsen this ranking.
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“Fat” states, according to the data, have high levels of interest payments per capital based on total debt, both state and local. Rhode Island suffers from a related debt burden of approximately $14,000 per person, about 50% higher than the 50-state average.
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According to data specially provided to the Center by Truth In Accounting, Rhode Island has seen a 60% increase in this ‘interest expense’ measure since 2006, more than twice the 28% average increase of the five fat states, and the largest increase of any state in the nation during this period, which, ironically, is a period that has seen interest rates dramatically decrease.
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“Not only do we spend-and-tax at levels significantly higher than our state can sustain, but we also pile massive debt burdens on the backs of our taxpayers,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “These interest payments alone can crowd out spending on other critical budget areas such as education, infrastructure, and public assistance. Just another reason why a new repeal and roll back policy culture is needed in Rhode Island.”
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The Governor’s FY-2015 budget would add to this debt and interest expense with about $275 million in proposed new bond projects. This would mean that approximately $36 million in additional interest debt service payments would be imposed on the state’s budget, or another $36 per resident per year on top of an already worst “fat five” ranking.
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“With Lent beginning this week, perhaps the Ocean State should go on a leaner diet, instead of devouring even more fatty pork,” suggested Stenhouse.
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