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

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:

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