2018 Middendorf “Pillar of Freedom” Award Winner

View previous winners here …

Dr. Daniel Harrop

2018 J. William Middendorf “Pillar of Freedom” Award Honoree

With a lifelong record of helping people both professionally and philanthropically, Dr. Daniel Harrop personifies the three pillars that our Center’s annual award is based upon: 1) Entrepreneurial or free-market business leadership, 2) Civic engagement, and 3) Record of philanthropic giving or charitable organization volunteerism.

In the area of professional accomplishment, Dr. Harrop, for many decades, has been a leader in the Rhode Island medical community as a certified psychiatrist. With a B.A. and M.D. from Brown University, along with an MBA from the Edinburgh Business School, Dr. Harrop is a licensee or certified member of over a dozen psychiatric and medical associations in numerous states. In addition to his private practice Dr. Harrop has served as President of the RI Psychiatric Society and the RI Catholic Medical Society, was a faculty member at the Brown University and Harvard Schools of Medicine, a staff member at RI and Butler Hospitals, and was RI Medical Director for United Behavioral Systems at United Healthcare. Additionally, dozens of other professional associations, publications, presentations, staff work, and leadership are not listed here.

With regard to civic engagement, Dr. Harrop is one of Rhode Island’s most honored members of the Catholic Church, having been knighted into the church’s distinguished “Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre” in 2008 by Pope Benedict. He is also a Grand Knight in the Providence Knights of Columbus.

Dan also served as President of the Brown Club of RI as well as the Brown Faculty Club, among other civic leadership posts; and he is the only active member of the original ‘medical advisory board’ appointed in the 1980’s in response to Rhode Island’s ‘workers compensation’ crisis. To top it all off, he’s also a Notary Public.

Harrop is President of the Sons of the American Revolution, and has held leadership roles with the Sons of the Union, Veterans of the Civil War, and the RI Historical Society. He currently leads an initiative to raise awareness about the Battle of Rhode Island during the American Revolution; not to mention a Board member of the Nathaniel Greene Homestead Assoc.

Dr. Harrop has further been a shaman of Ocean State politics since 1980, when he co-chaired RI Physicians for Reagan, and more recently as a major donor to the RI GOP and as chair of the Providence GOP. He was a two-time candidate for Mayor of Providence and for General Assembly – and self-funded his campaigns – just so the Republican brand would be on the ballot. Dr. Harrop was also a successful litigant against the RI Board of Elections when he challenged and defeated, as un-constitutional, a state law that capped annual political gifts from individuals.

Philanthropically, Dr. Harrop is one of the larger donors to the Catholic Diocese of Providence and is a patriarch in support of the Christian Holy Land. He funds a major scholarship in his name at the Brown Medical School and also funded “Harrop Theater” at his alma mater, Bishop Hendricken High School. Many more charitable gifts not listed here.

But “Doc” claims, other than donating his time and treasure to his faith, that his most fulfilling act of civic responsibility was serving as founding Chairman of the RI Center for Freedom of Prosperity, which has become the state’s leading voice advocating for the free-enterprise system and challenging the policies of the entrenched status quo. Quite simply put, without Dr. Daniel Harrop … our Center would not exist.

LEADERSHIP FORUM: National Experts & Local Leaders to Discuss State’s 48th Ranking in Family Prosperity Report

Media Advisory: January 11, 2017

Rhode Island Center For Freedom & Prosperity and ACU Foundation to Sponsor Rhode Island Family Prosperity Leadership Forum

BACKGROUND: Rhode Island ranked 48th in the nation on the 2016 Family Prosperity Index. Local and national experts will convene to discuss the factors that led to this ranking as well as ideas for political, religious, and civic leaders in the state to consider as they work to expand prosperity across the Ocean State.

Pre-registration and full participant bios and other details can be viewed here: http://www.rifamilies.org/family_prosperity_forum

WHAT: Family Prosperity Leadership Forum: From Family Disintegration to Family Prosperity – Turning the Tide in the Ocean State

WHEN: January 17, 2017; Lunch 12:00 pm Forum: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

WHERE: Bryant University, Bello Center Grand Hall
1150 Douglas Pike, Smithfield, RI 02917

HOST: Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership

SPONSORS: The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity;
American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF)

INVITEES: Community, Religious, Business & Political Leaders
(Pre-Registration Required)

WHO: National & Local Civic & Policy Experts

National Presenters:
Grant Collins: Sr. VP, FedCap; ex US Dep’t of Health & Human Services
Nick Eberstadt, Ph.D.: Political economist at American Enterprise Institute
Angela Flood: Communications and policy advisor, ACUF
Thomas Hoenig, Ph.D.: Vice Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)
J. Scott Moody: Economist; Director Family Prosperity Initiative
David Safavian: Deputy Director for ACUF Criminal Justice Reform
Daniel Schneider: Executive Director ACUF
Wendy Warcholik, Ph.D.: Economist; Director Family Prosperity Initiative

Local Participants:
Ray Rickman: President, Rickman Group, former State Representative
Gary Sasse: Director, Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership; Founder, RIPEC
Mike Stenhouse: CEO, RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity

WHY: The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, along with its national partner, The American Conservative Union Foundation, today announced that they will conduct a public forum to analyze factors contributing to the Ocean State’s dismal 48th national rank on the Family Prosperity Index (FPI) as highlighted in their December release of the Rhode Island Family Prosperity report. The report highlights Rhode Island’s poor scores across a broad spectrum of measures of well-being, including family self-sufficiency, family structure, fertility, and illicit drug use, compounded by its significant out-migration rate.

fpi_ri-logoThe Family Prosperity Index was created by the ACUF as new tool that does what no resource has done before – demonstrate quantitatively the undeniable link between economic and social policy in determining family prosperity. In so doing, the Index provides a road map for finding real solutions to the cultural and financial problems that keep families – and the nation – from flourishing.

A more holistic measure than the one-dimensional unemployment rate or GDP, which only considers economic data, the FPI makes it possible to measure U.S. progress every year and rate states against each other according to how well they are providing an environment for families to flourish.

Rhode Island is just the second state in the nation to roll-out a detailed state-specific FPI report.

Bright Today Scholarship Legislation to be Heard Wednesday in RI Senate

May 19, 2015
Bright Today Scholarship Legislation to be Heard Wednesday in RI Senate
Center Publishes New Booklet Summarizing Win-Win-Win Policy Solution
Providence, RI – Bi-partisan Senate legislation that would empower parents with greater choices when it comes to determining the best educational path for their children will be debated Wednesday in the Senate Committee on Education in Room 313 of the State House.

“No child should have to attend an under-performing school just because of their zip code or be forced to wait for vague promises of tomorrow’s reforms,” said Senator Marc Cote (D, Woonsocket), lead sponsor of the bill. “In order to have a bright future, every child deserves a great education of their family’s choice – today.”

At the 4:30 pm hearing for S0607, which would provide ‘Bright Today’ scholarships for private educations, and which would allow open enrollment within public schools, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity will provide testimony and will distribute a report-booklet, which highlights the key findings of multiple publications by the Center.

“In the five months since the launch of this school choice campaign, there has not been one credible argument made against this WIN-WIN-WIN policy solution,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “The booklet, The Way of the Future, shows how this major educational reform can provide immediate relief for thousands of under-served students, without costing taxpayers a single new dime and without adversely impacting public schools.

The booklet lays out a full description and narrative on the benefits of the Bright Today Scholarship program. Highlights include: Low value by government-run schools. Public schools in Rhode Island yield one of the lowest taxpayer values in New England and across the nation, failing far too many students.The public supports school choice. Based on behavior and public surveys, Rhode Islanders firmly support empowering parents with private school options.Not a partisan issue. Choice is not a Democrat-Republican or left-right issue, and is supported by constituencies from across the political spectrum. Demand exceeds supply. Legislative and administrative restrictions on existing charter school and corporate tax credit scholarship programs means parental demand for alternative schooling is greater than what the state allows.

  • Myths debunked. Despite claims from opponents, there is no adverse impact on public schools. In fact, public schools generally benefit from the increased competition and parent-driven accountability.
  • School choice leads to net fiscal savings for public school districts. The math of educational choice, unlike charter school math, leads to increased funding per public school student and actual savings for most school districts.

Bright Today Scholarships are a form of Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) where, just this week, Tennessee became the fourth state to officially adopt the innovative scholarship program. The bi-partisan House bill (H5790), also with a Democrat lead sponsor, is expected to be heard in the House Finance Committee in the coming weeks.

Background: In January 2015, the nonprofit Center published The Case for Expanded Educational Choice, putting forth arguments why the time is now to empower parents with more educational options for their children.
In March 2015, the Center published a report, The Way of the Future, describing the Bright Today Scholarship program outlined by the legislation.
In April 2015, The Math of Educational Choice, showed how most public school districts would actually achieve net fiscal savings via the Bright Today Scholarship program.
The main tenets of the “Bright Today Educational Choice” campaign, are that no child should be condemned to attend a failing school; that every family should feel confident that their children can dream of a bright future; that no child should have to wait for tomorrow’s reform promises; and that every child deserves an education of their family’s choice – today. A dedicated campaign website can be viewed at BrightToday.org.
The Center is part of a growing coalition, currently comprised of the nationally renowned Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, as well as number of in-state advocacy groups. For more information, concerned parents can also visit the Center’s ed choice home page at RIFreedom.com/EdChoiceRI.
Media Contact:
Mike Stenhouse, CEO
About the Center
The nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is Rhode Island’s premiere free-enterprise think tank. The mission of the 501c3 nonprofit 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.

Watch the Great Ocean State Debate

The debate was held on Saturday, April 26 on the University of Rhode Island campus.


You can watch the first 1-hour segment of the debate on State of the State cable TV

Part 1: The Economics of Tax Policies

Panelists: Samuel Bell; Justin Braga; Stephen Moore; and Tom Sgouros

Moderator:  Josh Fenton       Host: Mike Stenhouse, Center for Freedom & Prosperity    

Time: 60 minutes The Unleash R.I. Debate Series was produced by The Center for Freedom and Prosperity on April 26, 2014. What’s Really in Our Best Interest? is the first of the debate series. This is Debate Segment #1: The Economics of Tax Policies, which includes (A) Policy Philosophy & Impact in the Ocean State, (B) Specific Policy Ideas for Rhode Island.

Broadcast dates, times and channels

Saturday, May 10 at 11:00 PM on Cox channel 13, Verizon channel 32, and Full Channel 9

Sunday, May 11 at 8:00 AM on Cox channel 13, Verizon channel 32, and Full Channel 9

Monday, May 12 at 9:00 PM on Cox channel 18, Verizon channel 31, and Full Channel 9

Thursday, May 15 at 9:00 PM on Cox channel 18, Verizon channel 31, and Full Channel 9

Note: Cox channel 18 and Verizon 31 are local broadcast in Kent County only, which includesCoventry; East Greenwich; Exeter; North Kingstown; Warwick; West Warwick; and West Greenwich.


An online archive of the entire debate will soon be available for viewing, please check back soon. If you have not already done so, we kindly request that you register and take a short survey, by clicking the button below, prior to viewing the video:

[button url=”http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=pjb6jgcab&oeidk=a07e99dney25351de42″ target=”_blank” size=”medium” style=”royal blue” ]Register Here[/button]

In the meantime, here’s a brief video overview of the debate …


The Great Ocean State Debate – Registration Now Open

ATTEND THIS ONE-OF-A-KIND DEBATE on April 26 @ URI with some of the nation’s leading policy experts!

Are we better off with more or less government in our lives? Are some public policies ‘immoral’?

[button url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIhO0qo8w34&feature=youtu.be” target=”_self” size=”medium” style=”orange” ]See VIDEO promo[/button] [button url=”http://www.rifreedom.org/debate/” target=”_self” size=”medium” style=”royalblue” ]FREE Registration Here[/button]

Center Assembles Expert Panel for Sales Tax Hearing


Providence, RI — Hailed as the largest tax cut and economic stimulus plan the state of Rhode Island has ever considered, an expert panel has been assembled by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity to testify at Wednesday’s hearing of the “Sales Tax Repeal Act of 2013” (H-5365) in front of the RI House Finance Committee on May 15, at 1:00 pm in Room 35 at the RI State House.

The panel is comprised of: Scott Moody, the national economist who authored the original Zero.Zero Sales Tax report in 2012, which inspired the bill sponsored by Rep. Jan Mailik (D-67); Paul Bachman, from the Beacon Hill Institute, which developed the STAMP modeling program that produced the job and revenue projections used in the Zero.Zero reports; the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse; and the Center’s research director, Justin Katz.

The updated 2013 Zero.Zero report showed that as little as $105 million in budget savings could put the Ocean State on the path towards 25,000 new jobs and a re-invigorated economy, if the state were to repeal its onerous sales and meals tax.

“This is the only game-changing reform idea out there for a state economy that desperately needs a game-changing idea”, said Stenhouse. “This is a reform that would immediately save money for every family and business, and that would attract out-of-state shoppers to our state. Because of the regressive nature of the sales tax – and eliminating it would help low-income families most – we are seeing support from across the political spectrum. We invite all members of the public to attend the hearing and see how this plan can put Rhode Islanders back to work.”

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-partisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. With a credo that freedom is indispensable to citizens’ well-being and prosperity, the Center’s mission is to stimulate a rigorous exchange of ideas with the goal of restoring competitiveness to Rhode Island through the advancement of market-based reform solutions.

Member of Center’s Task Force to be Panelist at Brown Univ “Pensions in Peril” Forum

Providence — A member of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s special pension task force will serve as a panelist at the “Pensions in Peril” forum today, October 25 (Thursday afternoon), sponsored by the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University. The forum will feature national and local experts about how municipalities are dealing with the fiscal time bomb of unfunded pension liabilities.

Eileen Norcross, a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and lead researcher on the State and Local Policy Project, was the first national expert to raise alarms about public pension accounting in RI localities in 2011, arguing that municipalities are vastly under-estimating the true scope of their unfunded pension liabilities. Norcross co-authored a report that calculated municipal pension liabilities under various discount rate assumptions.

The Mercatus Center report, which received significant local and national attention, indirectly challenges the more rosy pension assumptions put forth by some local officials in RI, including co-panelist, Mayor Scott Avedisian of Warwick.

The forum, which will take place from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the Salomon Center for Teaching 001 off the main green at Brown University, is free and open to the public and media.

For more information about the Center’s pension task force and Eileen Norcross, click here.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-partisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. With a credo that freedom is indispensable to citizens’ well-being and prosperity, the Center’s mission is to stimulate a rigorous exchange of ideas with the goal of restoring competitiveness to Rhode Island through the advancement of market-based reform solutions.

Media Contact:

Taubman Center: 401.863.2201

Stenhouse Remarks – Press Conference 10/11/12

October 11, 2012 Press Conference: Mike Stenhouse, Revised & Extended Remarks

“Get Government Out of the Way” Solution

Good morning. Today, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity recommends a free-market, get-government-out-of-the-way approach to restore Rhode Island’s struggling economy.

Rhode Islanders want to be in control of their own lives. They want to know that if they educate themselves and work hard that they can be in charge of their own futures. They don’t want someone else telling what they need to do.

The Secretary of States publishes the RI Government Owner’s Manual, under the premise that we the people “own” our government. But who’s really in charge? Many Ocean Staters feel like the government is running THEIR lives, both personally and professionally.

Rhode Island has the worst business climate in the nation because we have one of the most burdensome tax and regulatory environments, leaving families with fewer opportunities and options to pursue a productive life of their own choosing.

More and more it seems that restrictive laws and government programs are running our lives and creating obstacles to prosperity.

Bad laws created this bad environment. So … it should not be all difficult to determine what approach we should take: If we want a good economy, bad laws must be repealed.

Our Center’s Report Card on RI Competitiveness documents dozens of areas where our state receives failing or poor grades because of laws that restrict opportunity or economic activity. Each of these poor grades represents a barrier to success. If we want a more competitive economy, we must tear down those intrusive barriers.

Our Center’s General Assembly Freedom Index for 2012 demonstrates how this past legislative session – only made matters worse. If we want an improving economy, we must roll back destructive legislation.

Our recent study on out-migration to bordering counties in MA and CT, are evidence that the onerous state and local tax burden in RI is driving taxpayers out of state.

Out Migration from RI

High Taxes in RI are forcing taxpayers to flee to MA and CT

The Chart above shows that Rhode Islanders who want to work and stay close to their families in Rhode Island, but who can’t afford to pay the taxes we impose on them, simply have to move a few miles over the border. And they are moving … in droves … taking their wealth and their kids with them. Taking our state’s future with them.

If we want an economy that attracts people to our state, we must stop over-taxing them.

Most Rhode Islanders want job security, more disposable income, and more quality time with their families.

I think of Marshall D’Ambrosio, owner of Legion Bowl and Billiards, our gracious host here today. Because of Rhode Island’s poor economy, and in order to survive, he has had to continually invest and risk his time and money in order re-invent his longtime family business here in Cranston.

How many ballgames and other family activities has he had to miss over the years, working into the wee hours because of the bad business climate in this state?

That bad business climate means other families and businesses have less disposable income … less income to go on a family vacation, to organize a business event, or even for a family outing at the local bowling alley.

It’s time to get real. It’s time to understand that the recent high-profile forums and reports, seeking solutions for our economy, are just window dressings that forestall action on the critical problems we must face head on as a state … that they seriously miss the mark.

The bad news is that no-one in the political class seems to want to address this problem. Think about what has transpired this year: the two most powerful officials in our state, the Governor and the Speaker of the House, have both indicated that there’s not much to do but to wait until the national economy picks up … this is not an economic strategy. And, unfortunately, they followed their own advice … they did nothing.

The General Assembly seems concerned only with balancing a budget … a budget is not economic policy.

More recently, highly publicized forums and special reports have generated much debate about how to boost the state’s failing economy: from commerce czars, to public-private partnerships, to what the private sector can do, to more creative marketing of the state, to reorganizing government departments, to grappling with questions like “who’s in charge”. Yet all of these approaches miss the critical mark. The political class does not get it.

But the good news is that citizens seem to get it … In fact, at one of those recent forums, 83% of the participants surveyed believe government to be the obstacle to economic development. Let me repeat … 83% believe government is the obstacle!

The solution must be to get government out of the way … to tear down the barriers to success … this solution is called the free-enterprise system. In the national debate last week, even President Obama call free-enterprise the ‘genius of America’; yet Rhode Island has severely departed from its principles.

Free-enterprise works, and has always worked; but Rhode Island’s economy is anything but free.

Free-markets are about individuals trying to better their own lives by working, innovating, and investing in business enterprises. Unlike the approaches currently under debate in our state, there should be no central authority dictating how or what workers and entrepreneurs need to do. There need be no over-arching strategy that restricts people’s choices. Laborers, investors, and business leaders should be largely free to work and prosper as they deem best.

This is what stimulates growth. This is what increases jobs. This is what creates wealth and grows the economic pie.

If we want a prosperous economy we must re-embrace the free-enterprise system.

Prosperity means that barriers to success must systematically be torn down.

Prosperity means that tax rates must be lowered.

Prosperity means that regulations on workers and businesses must be rolled back.

Prosperity means that we must trust more in each individual’s capacity to thrive and become self-sufficient.

Prosperity means that our state government must do less, and it must spend less.

Prosperity means that government must get out of the way. Adherence to a philosophy that seeks to subsidize politically sensitive constituencies – perceived to be in need – must be reversed.

If we want a productive economy we must build an opportunity environment that encourages people to be self-sufficient.

Similarly, revenue neutral approaches will not be enough to stimulate the rapid growth we need. Taxes and spending must be cut.

In fact, as we can see in the chart below, Rhode Island’s spending over the past 10 years has far outpaced inflation and its population growth … real spending cuts must be made, and can be made. Over this period, our state, in trying to be compassionate, has simply tried to help too many people … and it is slowly killing our economy.

RI spending has outpaced inflation and population rates

RI spending has outpaced inflation and population rates

If we want to create new wealth, we must abandon the redistribution of wealth approach.

If we survived at the spending levels of ten years ago, we can survive on them today.

Rhode Island can learn from the experiences of other states; some states richer, some states poorer; some polices working, some policies failing. It was also part of the genius of America that states would serve as laboratories of freedom, so that policy concepts of all kinds could be tried and tested.

Regarding economic policy, many state tests have been studied. We have ample data and evidence; and it is now well-known what approaches have been successful in other states.

If we want a bigger economic pie in RI … we need a new recipe.

We don’t need hundreds of pages of reports, or days upon days of public meetings to figure out what we need to do. In fact, our Get Gov’t Out of the Way public policy approach comprises 3 basic steps, that fits on a single page (in your packets).

In this regard, last month, our Center released a Prosperity Agenda for Rhode Island, a set of initial policy recommendations that will indeed roll back bad laws; an agenda that will tear down some of the significant barriers to success in our state; a pro-worker, pro-business agenda that can begin to restore freedom and prosperity for our citizens.

An example of one of the more compelling reforms is our Zero.Zero Sales Tax recommendation. Which of these two sets of numbers is better: [75-38-400] or [68-0-5000]?

Spending on a sales tax cut is better than 39-Studios spending

Well, let’s take a closer look … for less than the 75 million dollars the state thought was a good investment in 38 Studios chasing after just 400 jobs, Rhode Island could spend 68 million dollars in the first year of a phase out the sales tax towards 0.0%, which would create 5000 jobs each year for four years!

Yet, no one in the political class wants to debate this concept. Are we not in need of a game-changing solution?

We have evidence of a prosperous 0%-sales-tax state right up the road from us in New Hampshire; further, sales taxes reform is one of the handful of proven policies that states should consider, according to our guest speaker.

In fact, a national expert on state fiscal policy is here with us today, Jonathan Williams. In his book, Rich States, Poor States, he documents which states are doing well and which are not; which approaches to prosperity are succeeding and which approaches have failed.

To add his perspective is a man who has spoken to audiences across the country and has been quoted, seen or heard on numerous national media outlets. May I introduce to you the Director of the Center for State Fiscal Reform and the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council, Mr. Jonathan Williams …

October 11 Press Conference

Press Conference: October 11, 2012; 11:45 AM; Legion Bowl and Billiards; 661 Park Ave, Cranston, RI

“Get Government Out of the Way”

A Free-Market Approach to Improve RI’s Economy

Mike Stenhouse & Jonathan Williams at the Center's press conference

Media Information

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity will present a free-market public policy approach as the most effective approach to improve the Ocean State’s economy. A national expert from Washington, D.C. on state fiscal policy will also provide his perspective. Rhode Island has sharply deviated from free-enterprise principles … and is suffering the consequences. A rigorous public debate must ensue before the state embarks on any new path. In recent weeks, public forums and special reports have already generated much debate about commerce czars, public-private partnerships at institutions of higher education, what the private sector can do, and grappling with questions like “who’s in charge” of changing our Ocean State’s economy. However, none of these approaches directly address the most fundamental and obvious problem: what to do about the government created public policy barriers to success that have restricted economic and individual opportunity, resulting in the worst business climate in the country and the most dismal jobs outlook of any state in our Union. Rhode Island is losing the competition among states, both regionally and nationally, for the precious human and capital resources that are vital building blocks for a vibrant and growing economy that can produce good jobs for its citizens. In this regard, Rhode Island is failing, as evidenced by the Center’s Report Card on RI Competitiveness. Each sub-par grade on the report card represents one more government created barrier that businesses and individuals must overcome in order to succeed. Tearing down these barriers, one by one, with public policy reforms that free-up businesses and workers is the best path our state can take. Further studies and resources are not necessary in this regard: either we double-down on RI’s current high tax-and-spend and regulation approach, or, we reverse course and adhere to a free-market approach. Other states are already racing to establish their own competitive advantages; the Ocean State must keep pace and we do not have the luxury of time to delay action. To unleash our state’s great potential, we must develop a broadly attractive business climate, with a lower tax and regulatory burden for all businesses and individuals that will naturally foster renewed economic activity. It will be less productive to spend time and resources towards an approach that leads to a croynized or politicized strategy that favors certain business sectors, geographical regions, or specific business ventures. The lessons learned from other state laboratories, regarding which policy reforms will enhance economic growth and which will impede growth, have been extensively studied and are now plainly evident. The Center has itself already researched many of these issues within the Ocean State and has released specific policy recommendations via its Prosperity Agenda for Rhode Island, as part of its free-market approach: encapsulated in a 1-page, 3-step summary that will be presented at the press conference on October 11. To reinforce this concept, Jonathan Williams, author of Rich States, Poor States, has also conducted extensive research in this area and is a national expert on state fiscal policy. He will offer his analysis on Rhode Island and will discuss winning and losing public policy trends in other states. IF YOU PLAN ON ATTENDING The event is open to all members of the media and to friends of the Center. As the venue is a private business place, the event is not open to the general public. If you plan to attend, please email info@rifreedom.orgso that we can add your name to the participant list.


Jonathan Williams is a national expert on state budgets and economic policy and author of the book, Rich States, Poor States. Williams will provide detailed insight into how Rhode Island generally compares with other states in its approach to fiscal public policy. Jonathan Williams is the director of the Center for State Fiscal Reform and the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where he works with state policymakers, congressional leaders, and members of the private sector to develop fiscal policy solutions for the states. Prior to joining ALEC, Williams served as staff economist at the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, authoring numerous tax policy studies. Williams’s work has appeared in many publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Investor’s Business Daily. He has been a contributing author to the Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report and has written for the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In addition, Williams was a contributing author of “In Defense of Capitalism” (Northwood University Press, 2010). Williams has testified before numerous legislative bodies and spoken to audiences across America. He is a frequent guest on talk radio shows and has appeared on numerous television outlets, including the PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Fox Business News. Williams was also the recipient of the prestigious Ludwig von Mises Award in Economics.

Mike Stenhouse is CEO for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. A Harvard University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, he was previously the Executive Director of the Ocean State Policy Research Institute. Stenhouse is a frequent guest on many local talk-radio shows, has appeared on many cable mainstream news shows, and contributes frequently to the Providence Journal commentary pages. Prior to beginning his career in the public policy arena, Stenhouse, a former Vice President on the board of directors for RI Special Olympics, was a small business owner and also worked for a Fortune 500 company (Staples) and served as an executive for a $50+ million dot-com company (MyTeam.com). Upon his graduation from Harvard, Stenhouse had an eight-year professional baseball career, including time with the American League Champion Boston Red Sox in 1986, the Minnesota Twins, and the Montreal Expos.

Center Hosts ATLAS SHRUGGED 2 Movie Premiere Event

Ayn Rand fans gather with the Center's staff

The RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity invites friends of the Center and all free-enterprise loving citizens to the world premiere movie showing at the Lincoln Cinema World on Friday, October 12, 2012 at approximately 7:00 pm.

For a small, tax-deductible donation to the Center, registrants receive a movie ticket and FREE Atlas Shrugged II bonus items including an XL T-Shirt, and a raffle ticket for a drawing for posters, mug, and cap. Upgrade packages also offered.

Support our Center!

Click here for the event home page and to REGISTER for the event!