RELEASE: 2015 General Assembly Scorecard & Freedom Index – Diminished Economic Justice

January 7, 2016

Despite Claims of Moving Forward, Lawmakers Pushed Ocean State Backward in 2015
Broad Based Reform & Repeal Strategy Can Help Provide Equal Opportunity for all Rhode Islanders

Providence, RI — With the 2016 legislative session open this week, lawmakers are challenged to reverse the multi-year trend of a public policy record that has actually reduced the overall opportunity for economic prosperity in Rhode Island. This according to the 2015 General Assembly Freedom Index, published annually by the nonpartisan Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

While lawmakers enjoy pointing to the few (22) positive pieces of legislation they passed last year, the Center’s index demonstrates that the much greater number (99) of negative bills that became law unfortunately resulted in a net negative impact in 2015.

freedom-index-spiral-2015“Lawmakers are actually weakening economic justice. By erecting more barriers that restrict the freedoms of many Rhode Island families and businesses, as compared with preferential treatment that is generally reserved for the few special insiders or targeted industries, opportunities for economic and educational advancement are not equally provided,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Special interest tax credits and targeted tax cuts do not help the average family pay their bills or find better jobs. Broad based reforms and the repeal of burdensome taxes, fees, and regulations is the strategy we recommend for 2016.”

Among the findings in the 2015 index:

  • For the fourth year in a row, since the Center began publishing the Freedom Index in 2012, the General Assembly scored in the negative … pushing the state backward
  • In 2015, the General Assembly scored a dismal (-56.6), on a possible scale of (-100) to (+100).
  • Not a single lawmaker achieved an individual positive score in 2015
  • The House, the Senate, Republicans, and Democrats – as groups – all scored lower in 2015 than in 2014
  • All 5 legislative categories measured also dragged down the state by producing negative scores in 2015: Tax & Budget, Education, Public Sector Labor, Regulatory Environment, and Constitutional Government.

On the main RI Freedom Index page, the Center has posted a number of online and interactive tools and information for users and can link to scores from prior years:
Interactive Scorecard – from 2012 thru 2015 sort and filter scorecard data by year, chamber, party, individual legislator, category, and/or by town
2015 Legislator Scorecard – legislator by legislator scores and votes on individual bills, party index with full sort and filter
2015 Freedom Index findings – additional details and charts of 2015 results 2015 Freedom Index Report – Downloadable PDF
Description & Methodology

Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
401.429.6115 |

About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise research and advocacy organization. The nonprofit Center is funded entirely by private tax-deductible donations and never accepts public funding. The mission of the 501-C-3 organization is to return government to the people by opposing special-interest politics and advancing proven free-market solutions that can transform lives by restoring economic competitiveness, increasing educational opportunities, and protecting individual freedoms.