BEST & WORST BILLS of 2016: Pawtucket Train Station to Nowhere Among Worst

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2016

Train Station to Nowhere Perpetuates False Mass Transit Myth; Rhode Island is Not a Boston Suburb

Providence, RI — The obsession with advancing a federal mass transit agenda, as recommended by the Brookings Institution plan, continues in Rhode Island via a bill that would waste tens of millions of precious state and federal dollars on a commuter rail station in Pawtucket/Central Falls; a bill ranking as one of the worst bills of the 2016 session by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which today updated its list of the BEST and WORST bills of the 2016 General Assembly session.

Relying on the false notion that spending on mass transit hubs will produce positive economic development, H8009, sponsored by Rep. Carlos Tobon (D, Central Falls), perpetuates a submissive philosophy that the State of Rhode Island should be considered a suburb of Boston and should rely on the Massachusetts capital’s economy to achieve growth. The Center strongly disagrees and for years has advocated that broad-based reforms can transform the Ocean State into a vibrant and independent economy of its own that will benefit all families and businesses, as opposed to the insider few industries targeted by the Brookings plan.

At a higher level, once again General Assembly lawmakers in 2016 are on track to continue a multi-year, negative trend of public policy that will reduce economic justice for Rhode Islanders. This according to the 2016 General Assembly Freedom Index, an interactive, live tool published by the nonpartisan Center.

Also of note, 14 individual lawmakers currently have scores above zero, while in 2015 not a single Representative or Senator earned a positive score.

Lawmakers and the public are encouraged to visit the Legislation tab on the 2016 Freedom Index to determine the bill rankings for the majority of bills that have been rated, but not yet voted on. The “Summary” tab displays individual lawmaker scores.

Summary: As of May 20, of the 326 bills that have qualified for the index:

  • 236 bills are rated negatively, with only 87 bills receiving a positive score, and 3 yet to receive a rating
  • The negative bills would total a (-373) cumulative score, if all were to be voted on, while the positive bills would produce a +125 score, resulting in a net (-248) overall General Assembly rating
  • Led by Senator John Pagliarini (R, Portsmouth) just 14 of 113 lawmakers can currently boast a positive individual score, consisting of 1 Democrat, 12 Republicans, and 1 Independent; with 3 in the Senate and 11 in the House

Although not all 2016 bills have received final ratings, it is clear that the few positive pieces of legislation are massively outweighed by the much greater number of negative bills, resulting in a net negative impact, as has occurred in all prior years evaluated. The Center notes that not all bills have received final reviews and that the public should check back regularly for updated bill ratings and legislator rankings.

Additional resources are available on the main RI Freedom Index page, including a number of online and interactive tools and information for users, with links to scores from prior years:

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), April 2016: Slight Improvement, but Slipping Versus Neighbors

Click Here For The .PDF
 (See the full list of state rankings!)

Although the narrow official unemployment rate that Rhode Island politicians prefer to tout puts the state at 35th in the nation, up from 36th, the broader Jobs & Opportunity (JOI) ranking of Rhode Island remained unchanged at 48 among states. With eight of its 13 datapoints’ being updated, including quarterly alternate measures of unemployment, the index did see improvement on the Job Opportunity factor for April, largely because of a reduction of the number of Rhode Islanders at the edges of the labor force, including long-term unemployed, marginally attached, and involuntary part-time.

However, with employment in the Ocean State largely stagnant for the past year, this result may very well be an indicator of the final exit of people who’ve decided that they just can’t make RI work for them. Improvements in the two welfare metrics that were updated, Medicaid and SNAP, could also be otherwise positive developments indicating a trend that is arguably negative. (Note that these metrics lag by three and two months, respectively.)

As one would expect from an index with so many values, changes from month to month are not dramatic, as seen in the first chart, which shows the six New England states in the national race. Even so, Connecticut slipped a rank, to 34, and Vermont advanced one, to 20. New Hampshire held its place at the lead of the nation; Maine kept 22nd; and Massachusetts remained at 37.

NE-JOIrace-0416

Overall, the gap between Rhode Island’s JOI score and the New England average grew in April (see the second chart). That result contrasts with the unemployment rate, with which Rhode Island gained ground within New England (third chart), illustrating the problem with using that common metric as an indicator of economic health.

RINEUS-JOI-2005-0416

RINEUS-unemployment-2005-0416

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • The Job Outlook Factor (measuring people’s optimism that adequate work is available): RI moved up five steps to 43rd.
  • The Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI still ranks 39th, with reductions in welfare rolls being canceled out by lost jobs based in the state.
  • The Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI still ranks 46th, because no underlying data has been updated.

[Click here for a printable PDF.]

BEST & WORST BILLS of 2016: Uber Killer Among Worst Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2016

Radical Uber Killing Bill Would Harm Rhode Island’s Already Struggling Families

Providence, RI — While Rhode Island ranks 48th on the Jobs and Opportunity Index (JOI), demonstrating the deep need for new work within our state, the House is considering a bill that would kill ride sharing services like Uber or Lyft. These services are an efficient and innovative part of Rhode Island’s economy, and should be given a chance to prosper according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which today updated its list of the BEST and WORST bills of the 2016 General Assembly session.

By adding unreasonable burdens, H8044, sponsored by House Majority Whip Rep. Jay Edwards (D, Portsmouth), would impose heavy regulations and fees for transportation network companies (like Uber), including (among other things) $150 fees for each driver, unusual insurance regulations, bans against cash use, bans on driver gun licensing, and disability mandates. As seen in other states, legislation like this could force Uber or Lyft to leave the Ocean State due to government interference.
At a higher level, once again General Assembly lawmakers in 2016 are on track to continue a multi-year, negative trend of public policy that will reduce economic justice for Rhode Islanders. This according to the 2016 General Assembly Freedom Index, an interactive, live tool published by the nonpartisan Center.
Also of note, 14 individual lawmakers currently have scores above zero, while in 2015 not a single Representative or Senator earned a positive score.
Lawmakers and the public are encouraged to visit the Legislation tab on the 2016 Freedom Index to determine the bill rankings for the majority of bills that have been rated, but not yet voted on. The “Summary” tab displays individual lawmaker scores.
Summary: As of May, of the 324 bills that have qualified for the index:
  • 234 bills are rated negatively, with only 87 bills receiving a positive score, and 3 yet to receive a rating
  • The negative bills would total a (-370) cumulative score, if all were to be voted on, while the positive bills would produce a +125 score, resulting in a net (-245)overall General Assembly rating
  • Led by Senator John Pagliarini (R, Portsmouth) just 14 of 113 lawmakers can currently boast a positive individual score, consisting of 1 Democrat, 11 Republicans, and 2 Independents; with 4 in the Senate and 10 in the House
Although not all 2016 bills have received final ratings, it is clear that the few positive pieces of legislation are massively outweighed by the much greater number of negative bills, resulting in a net negative impact, as has occurred in all prior years evaluated. The Center notes that not all bills have received final reviews and that the public should check back regularly for updated bill ratings and legislator rankings.
Additional resources are available on the main RI Freedom Index page, including a number of online and interactive tools and information for users, with links to scores from prior years:

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