With about one-billion dollars in anticipated revenue shortfalls for RI, the Center publishes a new report with proven budget strategy.

DECISION OF THE CENTURY: New Report Lays Out a 2021 Budget Strategy for Prosperity


A 2021 Budget Strategy For Long-Term Prosperity
Legislative Leaders Not Understanding the New Reality?

Providence, RI – With about one-billion dollars in anticipated revenue shortfalls, and with recent statements from leading Rhode Island lawmakers indicating a general feeling of helplessness, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity today published a new report with proven budget strategies that can help put the state on a long-term trajectory towards prosperity. 

Virtually all recent comments from public officials indicate an undue reliance on federal bailout funds in the hope that status quo spending levels might be maintained. This is not a budget strategy. 

Compiled after numerous discussions with colleagues in other states, as well as with state budget experts with national organizations, the Center’s report, Decision of the Century, is premised on the understanding that the decisions soon to be made by lawmakers in dealing with the pandemic-caused revenue losses, will set the near and long term trajectory for the Rhode Island economy; whether our state will experience a “V”, “U”, or “L” shaped recovery and what our Ocean State’s business climate will look like in the years and decades ahead. 

“The budget problems we face did not come down from the heavens; they were government-made and they can be reversed. Lawmakers should not feel helpless, nor should they rely on the federal government. Many states are taking proactive steps to prepare their state economies for rapid recovery … and we must do the same,” advised Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Lawmakers have to understand that they can no longer hide from the responsibilities and difficult decisions they were elected take on. The status quo budget approach – tax, spend, and borrow – will not work in response to this pandemic crisis.”

Similar to what the state of Washington adopted years ago, the report, co-authored by professor Dennis Sheehan and research director Justin Katz, highlights proven budget strategies that are flexible enough to navigate the unpredictable and massive deficits that lay ahead, while allowing the freedom for economic growth. The three key components of this strategy are:

  1. Establishing “Core Principles of Government” – to ensure that the most-vital functions of government are clearly defined as guidelines for the budget process
  2. Adopting a “Revenue-Constrained Spending” philosophy – committing the state to spending only those moneys that are actually taken in, at current tax and fee rates
  3. Setting “Priority Based Spending” targets – such that specific spending categories or programs are pre-prioritized and will be funded only as actual revenue receipts are realized

The primary decision for lawmakers will be to determine what budget strategy path Rhode Island’s financial recovery will take. Will it go down the road of a centrally “planned economy”, with lawmakers arbitrarily making political tax and spending decisions that impose more government control over our lives? Or, will the “invisible hand” of the free-enterprise system be allowed to work, increasing prosperity and paving the way for more rapid economic, jobs, and income growth?

This critical decision will determine whether the Ocean State is to become a more or less hospitable place to raise a family and build a career; and whether families, graduates, retirees, and investors will continue to flee our state. 

“In these unique times, a reality-based budget strategy is required. There is no time to pretend that the same old budget approach … one that has created the worst state business climate in the nation … can work for us now,” concluded Stenhouse.

More information and budget posts from the past years can be viewed at RIFreedom.org/Budget.

The Flanders Legal Center for Freedom issued a letter to RI Governor Gina Raimondo urging her to rescind existing orders based on religious rights.

Flanders Legal Center Issues Religious Rights Demand Letter to Governor Raimondo

Governor’s Phase-2 Rules Are Likely Unconstitutional
Burdens Churches With Special Restrictions Not Imposed Elsewhere

Providence, RI – One day after America celebrated Memorial Day to honor those who sacrificed for our freedoms, including religious liberty, the Flanders Legal Center for Freedom issued an open letter to Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo urging her to rescind existing orders and to amend any contemplated orders and regulations that discriminate against churches and church-goers. 

To avoid a potential legal challenge to the State, the letter from the Flanders Legal Center for Freedom, an initiative of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, advises that the religious community must be provided with the same opportunities to safely assemble (and worship) that are provided to secular entities.

“Your … recent public statements that indoor restaurants and other secular venues may re-open at up to 50% of their capacity, while churches and other faith-based venues may only re-open at a 25% capacity … are unconstitutional,” writes Robert G. Flanders, author of the letter and chairman of the legal center. “Today, we call on you to amend your orders to recognize the essential services provided by our churches.”

Earlier this month, the Flanders Legal Center published a legal analysis addressing the many legal limits of the Governor’s emergency powers under the law.

Flanders, a board member of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, is a practicing attorney and former Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. The legal center’s volunteer team is also composed of attorneys Matthew Fabisch, Richard MacAdams, and Patrick Reynolds.

The nonpartisan Flanders Legal Center expects to provide ongoing legal commentary, submit friend of the court briefs, and potentially engage in select litigation cases.

The media is invited to contact the Center to arrange for interviews with former Judge Flanders.

We Want Our Summer Back!

MEDIA RELEASE: Center Launches #WeWantOurSummerBack Campaign – with catchy new Jingle!


Citizens Encouraged to Take Action to Save Summer
Governor Had No Legal or Data Basis to Cancel Group Fun
Listen to the #WeWantOurSummerBack Jingle here 

Providence, RI – Responding to overwhelming feedback from Ocean Staters angered about the Governor’s unjustified summer shut-down, and who are asking what they can do … the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity answered the call and today launched its #WeWantOurSummerBack campaign.

The campaign, which includes a home webpage and a catchy new jingle, initially provides three action steps citizens can take to raise public and legislative awareness:

  • Submit for website posting, the event or family activity that the Governor has cancelled for you or your family
  • Contact your lawmaker to encourage them to reconvene, and utilize their power to end the Governor’s over-cooked declared state of emergency
  • Sign an online petition to fully #ReOpenRI, as all businesses and jobs are essential

“This Governor’s arbitrary summer lock-down is not supported by the data and was not even legal,” declared Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Many Rhode Islanders feel that the Governor unjustifiably shut-down our summer fun.  The General Assembly can be heroes and give us our summer back.”

Imagine no graduation parties!

The #WeWantOurSummerBack campaign is premised on two critical claims:

  1. The Governor provided no data or scientific justification for shutting down group summer activities. To drive home this point, Stenhouse yesterday published a detailed video analysis of the state’s Covid-19 data.
  2. In April, the Governor exceeded her 30-day limit on emergency powers when she canceled parades, weddings, and other traditional summer time activities. A legal analysis by the Center’s Flanders Legal Center for Freedom clearly makes this point.

Words to the #WeWantOurSummerBack 20-second “jingle” include:
We want our summer back… the WaterFire, the Fourth of July, the Gaspee parade, the Del’s at the beach… 

Rhode Island Governor Emergency Powers

Legal Paper: Governor’s Emergency Powers are Not Unlimited and Unchecked

Legal Limits on Emergency Executive Powers in Rhode Island General Assembly Designed to be a Check

Providence, RI – The General Assembly has the absolute authority to end a declared state of emergency, especially when the Governor may not be acting with “restraint and moderation and with strict regard to the rights of the people.” This according to a legal analysis released today by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity (Center).

The six-page analysis, conducted by the new Flanders Legal Center for Freedom, an initiative of the Center, takes a close look at the Rhode Island General Laws that vest emergency powers with the Governor. In examining the statutes under RI General Laws § 30-15, those powers are neither unlimited, unchecked, nor intended to be exercised with unbridled discretion. 

Important legal questions are raised in the analysis, as to whether or not the Governor has exceeded her legal authority in issuing executive orders and other edicts:

  • Did the Governor exceed clear time limitations when she effectively shut down mid-to-large sized summer events and activities?
  • Did the Governor illegally reschedule the June Presidential Primary, with arbitrarily imposed new voting and voter-ID rules?
  • Did the Governor infringe on religious rights by limiting church crowds, while allowing larger gatherings in other, secular settings?
  • Do the Governor’s arbitrary limitations on the number of people who are permitted to peaceably assemble violate our First Amendment rights?

“It is vital that a balance of power be maintained and that the General Assembly seriously consider its important role,” advised Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Many Rhode Islanders feel that the Governor prematurely shut-down our summer fun. She may also have done so illegally. The General Assembly can be heroes and give us our summer back.”

This legal analysis is the first publication of the Flanders Legal Center for Freedom, which is led by Robert Flanders, a board member of the Center, a practicing attorney, and former Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Operating under the auspices of the Center, the nonpartisan Flanders Legal Center expects to provide ongoing legal commentary, submit friend of the court briefs, and potentially engage in select litigation cases.

The media is invited to contact the Center to arrange for interviews with former Judge Flanders.

Center launches PSA campaign

PSA Campaign Encourages Workers to Re-Enter the Workforce Despite High Unemployment Benefits

Providence, RI As the Ocean State begins the re-opening of its economy, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity today launched a Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign, encouraging workers to re-join the workforce, instead of collecting unemployment benefits. 

The PSA campaign is themed on the iconic war era “Victory Garden” and “Uncle Sam Wants You” concepts. The Center expects radio-spots to begin running on-air this week.

“Your state needs you. It is vital for every employer and worker .. and consumer … possible to re-engage in commerce in order to help our state recover economically from this pandemic,” advised the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “If your former or prospective employer is authorized to offer work to you, it is vital that you help re-build our state economy.”

Flooded with calls from employers who are unable to re-hire or hire workers laid-off because of the corona-virus crisis, it is clear that, for many, the recently approved federal unemployment benefits, in combination with state unemployment benefits, has created a disincentive to return to the workforce. 

The Center believes it is the patriotic duty of every Rhode Islander to do what they can to restore prosperity to our state, even if that might mean forgoing overly-generous government aid, a condition that could persist through much of the summer. 

For each person who returns to work, in addition to helping rebuild GDP and state and federal revenues through employee and employer taxes, the state can save paying-out unemployment benefits. “Also, at the individual level, working is a soul-fulfilling act,” added Stenhouse.

The Center’s PSA campaign will consist of recordings for radio, pre-taped by Stenhouse, along with a social media push. 

The Center has created a 0:15 second and a 0:30 second radio spot, the audio files of which can be made available to interested media entities, with the following content:

0:15. This is Mike Stenhouse with the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity encouraging you to plant your own Victory Garden by re-joining the workforce as soon and as safely as you can. Every employer and worker is needed to grow-back a prosperous Ocean State economy.

0:30. This is Mike Stenhouse with the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity encouraging you to do your part in helping our state win the war against this pandemic by planting your own Victory Garden … by returning the workforce as soon as you can … and to practice safe-health protocols. While it may seem attractive to collect unemployment for a while, your state needs you now: Every employer and every worker is necessary to grow-back a prosperous and healthy Ocean State economy.

Climate change radicals run amok! CEO Stenhouse and attorney activist Chris Horner discuss the bogus scheme of the RI DEM head Janet Coit to get more money.

In The Dugout: Chris Horner on RI DEM Head’s Scheme for Revenue In “Climate Change” Lawsuit