As an alternative option to fund repairs of the Ocean State’s crumbling bridge and road infrastructure, a “pay as you go” approach that prioritizes current general revenue in the budget would provide budget certainty and save over half a billion dollars in wasteful, non-productive financing and overhead costs for Rhode Islanders, compared with Governor Gina Raimondo’s RhodeWorks plan, which increases Rhode Island’s debt burden and tolls the trucking industry to pay for it.
Specific savings that can be achieved by adopting a Pay As You Go approach include:
- $563 million in interest costs
- $49 million in financing debt and service reserve costs
- $43+ million in tolling infrastructure (gantries and administration)
Cuts to corporate welfare and other non-essential spending programs can pay for the project instead. Prioritizing infrastructure spending in the state’s existing budget, there would be no need to identify significant new sources of revenue that would drain money from the private sector, make Rhode Island even less competitive with our neighbors, and place unnecessary downward pressure on an already stagnant state economy.
Taxpayers also should not automatically accept the historically high cost of road and bridge repair and construction in our state.
Instead of enriching insider interests such as Wall Street financial institutions, labor unions, and large union-shop contractors, taxpayers should demand fiscal discipline and restraint by limiting the scope of the RhodeWorks project to what Rhode Islanders actually need and can afford.
From a process perspective, Rhode Islanders are fed up with non-transparent backroom deals among insiders that shut out the voice of the public. Few details of the plan’s financials have been released. It is also questionable from a constitutional and ethical point of view whether or not a bond of this magnitude can be, or should be, authorized without a vote of the people.