Governor’s 2019-20 Budget: The Rhode to Serfdom

Providence, RI — Instead of seeking to shape Rhode Island’s future with the proven ideals of a free-society, Governor Raimondo’s proposed 2019-2020 budget is a stunning departure from America’s core values and, instead, would put our state on a “Rhode to Serfdom,” according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

With the Ocean State doomed to lose a US Congressional seat because of its hostile tax, educational, and business environment, which chases away wealth, families, and businesses, the policies presented in the Governor’s budget would make matters far worse.

“Just yesterday, I attended a thoughtful lecture by the chief economist for JP Morgan Chase at an event hosted by the RI Society of CPAs. His message was that economic growth is the best path to achieve prosperity and to manage deficits … not raising taxes and not necessarily cutting spending,” commented Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “However, this Governor’s regressive budget points us 180 degrees in the opposite direction and would stifle any opportunity for growth. Ocean Staters are clearly being forced down a Rhode to serfdom.”

With new government-imposed health insurance mandates that will further burden already distressed families as well as employers who are already suffering from one of the worst business climates in the nation, and along with a bevy of new taxes and fees that will further restrain economic growth, the proposed budget takes a giant step backwards towards a centrally-planned society, where government controls more and more aspects of our lives. The entire country is thriving, economically, from reduced government intrusion into our lives, but these progressive-left policies would increase dependency on government.

The proposed Medicaid tax on businesses and the individual mandate are particularly egregious. Each would serve as yet another reason for large employers and families to stay away from Rhode Island. It is oppressive that the government would seek to punish employers for not compensating their workers how the government wants them to; or to punish individuals not being able to afford the high-cost insurance resulting from the government created Obamacare mandates.

“For the better part of a decade, the State has encouraged and bragged about the number of people enrolled in Medicaid with taxpayer funded ads, and now she wants to make businesses pay for it,” cynically question the Center’s research director, Justin Katz.

Equally disturbing, the budget contains no meaningful remedies to the many problems that plague our state, such as high taxes across the board, high energy and healthcare costs, and onerous regulatory burdens on job-producers.

“On top of her irresponsible new spending proposals, clearly designed to benefit special-interest unions, the reliance on SIN taxes to pay for these schemes will tear at the cultural fabric of our society,” continued Stenhouse. “The continued attacks against legal firearms owners and smokers, along with the unsustainable increase in overall government spending, with its immoral budget scoops, also points Rhode Island back towards a totalitarian form of government that I thought we were done with in America.”

For these reasons and more, Rhode Island suffers from an epidemic of people and businesses fleeing our state. “Maybe it’s time to build our own wall to keep people in,” joked Stenhouse earlier in the week.

The Center again calls on General Assembly leaders to reduce the state’s sales tax, citing existing law that requires such a rate-reduction if certain “internet” taxes are enacted. With the multitude of new sales taxes imposed in recent budgets, the Center maintains that we have essentially reached that legal threshold.

Governors 2019 budget

State of the State Analysis: Making RI Worse … Again

Governor’s Policy Ideas Will Make Matters Worse

More of the same progressive-left policies that are hampering our state today

Providence, RI — With the Ocean State doomed to lose a US Congressional seat because of its hostile tax, educational, and business environment, which chases away wealth, families and potential investors, the policies presented in the Governor’s 2019 State of the State address would only make matters worse, according to the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

“The Governor offered nothing but more of the same, failed progressive-left policies,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Instead of seeking to make our state a more free and welcoming place to live and work by easing governmental intrusion in our lives, the Governor is proposing even further attacks on our individual and economic rights. This misguided vision should be alarming to all Rhode Islanders.”

As prior Governors and General Assembly leaders have erred in the recent past, many items from the Governor’s speech would again make Rhode Island an even worse place to raise a family or build a career:

  • With no coherent plan to address our long-time K-12 public-schools problem other than throwing more money at it; and instead of lessening government and union influence over our recently exposed dismal student test scores, the Governor is proposing even more government control over students via her “universal pre-K” and expanded “free college tuition” programs.
  • Instead of easing regulatory burdens on employers in a state with one of the worst business climates in the country, the Governor proposed placing job-producers in further economic peril via more onerous wage mandates. Instead of combating the deadly use of opioids, the Governor’s unspoken tonight push for legalization of marijuana will only create a stepping stone for further drug abuse and will lead to a further fraying of our state’s societal fabric.
  • Instead of protecting and preserving our individual freedoms, the Governor is expanding the attacks and infringements on the rights of the unborn and those seeking to exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves.
  • Instead of seeking to provide more affordable and higher-quality health insurance for state residents, the Governor continues to push for sub-standard and unaffordable government-mandated insurance.
  • With corporation after corporation pulling out of RI and reneging on their corporate welfare deals, the Governor continues to promote more special-interest incentives that end up producing little more than empty headlines … all paid for by the hard-working taxpayers of our state.

For these reasons and more, Rhode Island suffers from an epidemic of people fleeing our state. “Maybe it’s time to build our own wall to keep people in,” quipped Stenhouse.

Center Co-signs Amicus Brief in Public Employee Union Supreme Court Case

CENTER JOINS LOCAL AND NATIONAL ORGS IN SUPPORT OF FURTHER WORKPLACE FREEDOM FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

Government Unions Should Welcome a pro-Uradnik Decision

Providence, RI — The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is one of 18 organizations across the country listed as co-signers on an “amicus brief” filed last week in support of Kathleen Uradnik, a university professor in Minnesota, in her US Supreme Court lawsuit, Uradnik vs Inter Faculty Association
 
The amicus brief, submitted by the Center of the American Experiment, was also co-signed by another Rhode Island nonprofit, the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights, a libertarian strategic litigation organization (the brief’s Appendix lists all of the co-signing organizations).
 
This Uradnik case challenges state laws that appoint a union to represent and speak for all workers, even those who disagree with it – an arrangement known as “exclusive representation.”
 
Uradnik, who has had major disputes with her faculty’s labor union, which has discriminated against her, is nonetheless required by state law to associate with it and to allow it to speak for her. Rhode Island has similar laws imposing exclusive representation upon public employees, limiting their freedoms and opportunities for advancement. 
 
“Last summer’s Janus decision was monumental in restoring First Amendment rights for public servants against forced union fee payments. Now, the fight for freedom continues against forced union representation,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Public unions, which have complained about the ‘free-rider’ aspects of Janus, should join us in supporting Kathleen Uradnik, as it would alleviate them of their stated burden of representing employees who have chosen not to pay their high annual union dues.”
 
A win for Uradnik would strike down such laws nationwide, another major blow against union favoritism and in favor of First Amendment rights. The amicus brief encourages the Supreme Court to hear the case, hopefully in its 2019 session.
 
Any state or local government employees (teacher, fire, police, service, or admin) who wants more control over their families’ financial security and who may have questions about their rights in the aftermath of the historic Janus ruling by the US Supreme Court last summer can find out more about their restored freedoms and their unions’ activities at www.MyPayMySayRI.com . In short, the high cost of union dues means less money in employees’ paychecks and more money toward a system teachers don’t control. @MyPayMySayRI 
 
The Center is currently compiling detailed data on exactly how teachers union dues are being spent, including what political agendas and candidates are being unwittingly funded by the dues of teachers across the state of Rhode Island. An initial report is expected soon.

Jobs & Opportunity Index November 2018 update- employment down 190 from the first-reported number for October, labor force dropped 208. RI in 47th place.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), November 2018: Employment and Income Diverging

November’s data for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) paints a bit of a mixed picture. The Ocean State is still 47th in the country, with seven of the 12 datapoints in the index updated. (Rhode Island remains the only state not updating its SNAP [food stamp] data, thanks to UHIP, although positive news suggest this may soon change.)

Employment was down 190 people from the first-reported number for October, and the labor force dropped 208. The number of jobs in the state also dropped, by 400. Turning to the financial results that make up JOI’s Prosperity Factor, total personal income in Rhode Island increased by an annualized $359 million from the prior number, while state and local tax collections increased $71 million. On the hopeful side, the number of Rhode Islanders relying on Medicaid decreased by 1,490 enrollees.

The first chart shows RI remaining last in New England. New Hampshire leads the region, in 3rd place, nationally. Vermont held 13th place, but Maine lost the step it had taken last month and fell back to 16th. Massachusetts and Connecticut both remained in place at 36th and 40th, respectively.

The second chart shows the gaps between RI and both New England and the United States on JOI, which both increased in November. The third chart shows the gaps in the official unemployment rate, which both decreased slightly.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI remained 26th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.
Throwing more money at the severe failures highlighted in this week's RICAS student assessment scores is not the answer, as our state already ranks among the highest spending states per student in the nation. The solution must come from fundamental reforms to Rhode Island education failures.

Center Calls for Empowered Teachers and ESA’s as Part of the Solution to RI’s Education Failures

Teachers Should Leverage Their Newly Restored Rights

ESA Outlet for Concerned Families?

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity for years has been warning about the poor value state and local taxpayers have been receiving for their high public investment in public education. Throwing more money at the severe education failures highlighted in this week’s RICAS student assessment scores is not the answer, as our state already ranks among the highest spending states per student in the nation. The solution must come from fundamental reforms.

First, the Center has previously suggested that public education can be the greatest beneficiary of the last summer’s landmark US Supreme Court Janus decision. By boldly taking advantage of their recently restored first-amendment Janus rights, and because unions can no longer force teachers who disagree with them to fund bargaining positions that tie the hands of educators, teachers have been empowered with a stronger voice to fight against ineffective policies. Teachers must be un-handcuffed by ending union-negotiated restrictions on how they are allowed to educate our children. Teachers must also demand a greater say about potential reforms that may improve educational outcomes. If teachers believe their unions are not helping to positively reform education, they now have the full-freedom and leverage to opt-out of paying any money to their union without fear of negative repercussions. Teachers, and all public employees can learn more at MyPayMySayRI.com.

Throwing more money at the severe failures highlighted in this week's RICAS student assessment scores is not the answer, as our state already ranks among the highest spending states per student in the nation. The solution must come from fundamental reforms to Rhode Island education failures.

Second, an outlet must be provided for families that want a brighter future for their children, which begins with a better education today. The Center’s “Bright Today” Educational Scholarship Account program (ESA), which was blocked by teachers unions in the General Assembly years ago, would empower parents to choose a better school for their children, by allowing limited dollars to follow the student to a private school of their choice. National studies have shown that such private school choice policies can improve educational results for participating students, without harming existing public educational outcomes. More information about the Bright Today ESA scholarship program can be found at BrightToday.org.

With ethics issues abound, we call on NEARI to authorize its own highly compensated union official, Sarah Markey, to resign from the South Kingstown School Committee.

Center Calls on NEARI to End the Ethics Drama in South Kingstown

NEA Scheme Would Create Continual Ethical Problems

Teachers Do Not Want Stigma of Being Tied to Corrupt Union Tactics

Providence, RI — With ethics issues abounding and an irreconcilable conflict of interest likely to result in constant recusals and committee actions that will be continually challenged as illegitimate, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity calls on the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI) to authorize its own highly compensated union official, Sarah Markey, to resign from the South Kingstown School Committee seat she won in the November elections.

Generating intense local and statewide debate, most honest observers believe that Markey would find it impossible to balance her civic duties as a school committee member with her professional duties to preserve and grow union membership and compensation levels, necessarily at the expense of the taxpaying voters who unwittingly elected her.

“I call on my friend Bob Walsh to do the ethical thing here,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Understandably, government worker unions across the country are desperate to try to circumvent the loss of membership, money, and political power that will result from the landmark Janus ruling by the US Supreme Court. However, rigging the system by placing their union bosses as inside agents, who will only corrupt the democratic process, is an unacceptable tactic. This cannot be allowed to happen in South Kingstown or anywhere else in our state.”

The Center contends, with the NEA scheme now exposed, that Mr. Walsh should recognize that the gig is up and save the town from additional public embarrassment. Potentially furthering the fiasco, according to media reports, on Friday evening the school committee will consider firing the messenger – the law firm – that initially provided a sound legal opinion about the insurmountable conflicts of interest if Ms. Markey were to serve on the committee.

As the United States Supreme Court opined in its historic Janus decision last summer, virtually every action that a government employee union conducts is inherently political, as it necessarily involves public policy or public money. On a local school committee that deals 100% on issues involving public education, and its funding by taxpayers, Ms. Markey faces a hopeless conflict of interest.

National surveys show that public employees are often turned-off by the corrupt and unscrupulous tactics that their own unions sometimes deploy and that they do not want the stigma of such overt political actions tarnishing their personal reputations.

No longer required to pay any fees or dues to unions, and legally protected from recrimination or adverse consequences, public employees can learn more about their Janus rights at www.MyPayMySayRI.com.

The legislative sausage-making process in Rhode Island is in dire need of reform; reforms that should be codified via a constitutional amendment.

Center Recommends Constitutional Amendment to Codify Legislative Process Reforms

All Lawmakers Should Have a Greater Say in the Legislative Process

New “Reform Caucus” is Disingenuous

Providence, RI — The legislative sausage-making process in Rhode Island is in dire need of reform; reforms that should be codified via a constitutional amendment, according to the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

“Now is the time to demand better government. Now is the time for General Assembly leadership to cede some of their excessive powers and to reform our government so that all lawmakers on Smith Hill are freer to represent the families and businesses in their districts. No more excuses,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “It is far better that the many elected representatives have a greater say in the legislative process than to be pressured to support the agendas of the few in leadership.”

The Center supports the reform ideas previously put forth by Representative Jared Nunes (D, Coventry) as a good starting point. However, now, with the statewide debate gaining momentum, the Center recommends that a more permanent solution should also be considered.

In calling for a dual-legislative track, the Center’s primary objective is to ensure that elected Senators and Representatives will have greater capacity and freedom to represent their individual districts, rather than being compelled to back the personal agendas of Senate and House leadership.

The first piece of legislation would immediately implement certain reforms for the 2019 General Assembly session, while the second piece would call for a ballot-referendum in 2020, whereby voters could approve codification of those reforms into the Rhode Island constitution.

“The recently concocted ‘Reform Caucus’, led by progressive-left activists, is currently making disingenuous calls for similar reforms. It should be clear, however, that their motives are not for good-government purposes, but rather as a means to advance their radical agenda,” warned Stenhouse. “We must institutionalize these reforms in our constitution, because the ultra-left cannot be trusted not to reimpose authoritarian measures if they ever assume leadership control.”

The Center calls on lawmakers from the left and the right to publicly back this legislative initiative, and for leadership to consider how they can be viewed as heroes by supporting these obvious good-government reforms.

Among the high-level goals that the legislation and constitutional referendum should seek to reform, include:

  • Less control by leadership over what legislation will advance, with more power provided to legislative committees
  • A more democratic process to ‘advise and consent’ over committee chair appointments and other leadership positions
  • An end to the corrupt end-of-session “cattle-call” votes, whereby dozens upon dozens of bills are rushed through committees and brought up for floor votes in the course of just a few late-night hours
  • A process that restricts the capacity of majority and minority leaders to ‘suspend the rules’ to circumstances where only true emergencies may occur, and with limited duration or scope.
  • An end – or significantly increased transparency – to the corrupt legislative and community grant process, which is often used as a coercive legislative sledge-hammer

October 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index: More Slipping as the Weather Cools

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) reports have been noting for a while that the state’s economy hasn’t been living up to the hype. October didn’t change that story. The Ocean State is still 47th in the country, with nine of the 12 datapoints in the index updated, and the indicators suggest Rhode Islanders are growing skeptical of improvement. (Note that Rhode Island remains the only state not updating its SNAP [food stamp] data, thanks to UHIP.)

Employment was up a tiny 50 people from the first-reported number for September. Meanwhile, the labor force dropped 685, people unemployed for more than 15 weeks went up by 700, and those who are only able to find part-time work increased by 1,600. To balance that a little, the number of jobs in the state went up by 1,000, while 200 fewer Rhode Islanders said they were only marginally attached to the employment market. Of course, that may be because they completely gave up. The discouraging results for labor force and alternative employment measures were enough to cause a nine-place drop for the ocean state in the Job Outlook Factor.

At the same time, the number of Rhode Islanders relying on Medicaid went up 736 enrollees. The TANF (welfare) data was finally updated after more than a year and showed that the numbers had decreased by 920. We should emphasize, however, that this data still lags considerably, reflecting the results from June.

The first chart shows RI last in New England. New Hampshire leads the region, in 3rd place, nationally. Vermont held 13th place, but Maine advanced a step to 15th. Massachusetts slipped one, to 36th, while Connecticut stumbled two spots, to 40th.

October 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on October 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index. The third chart shows the gaps in the official unemployment rate.

October 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index October 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index

Results for the three underlying October 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI dropped to 26th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.

Public school teachers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have little or no control over the four-out-of-five of their union dues dollars that support the high salaries and extremist political advocacy of state and national union officials. Conversely, a mere 16%-21% of their hard-earned money is directed to their local unions.

NEW: Statement on MA Report re. Teachers Union Dues-Flow. Just 21% stays local in RI?

RI Teachers See About 80% of their Dues Spent on non-Local Salaries and Issues

Detailed Spending Report in the Works

Providence, RI — Public school teachers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have little or no control over the four-out-of-five of their union dues dollars that support the high salaries and extremist political advocacy of state and national union officials. Conversely, a mere 16%-21% of their hard-earned money is directed to their local unions.

Public school teachers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have little or no control over the four-out-of-five of their union dues dollars that support the high salaries and extremist political advocacy of state and national union officials. Conversely, a mere 16%-21% of their hard-earned money is directed to their local unions.

According to a report released yesterday by the Pioneer Institute in Massachusetts, only 16% of dues paid by the average Bay State teacher flows toward their local association. The lions share, instead, is funneled to the Mass. Teachers Association and the National Education Association (NEA). Worse for teachers, according to the federal filings of the NEA, AFT, and AFSCME affiliates, only about 20% of the “local” dues money goes towards bargaining or other representational activities.

In the Ocean State, a document obtained by the Center earlier this fall showed that just 21% of teachers’ dues may stay local; again with significantly larger portions flowing up the line to advance non-collective-bargaining-related state and national agendas.

“Understandably, most union members like their local union reps,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse, “However, most teachers are probably not aware that 80% or more of their dues flow upward to support activities that do not directly help teachers and, as is often the case, political advocacy they strongly disagree with.”

Teachers, and any state or local government employee, who want more control over their family’s financial security, and who may have questions about their rights in the aftermath of the historic JANUS ruling by the US Supreme Court last summer, can find out more about their restored freedoms and their union’s activities at MyPayMySayRI.com. In short, the high-cost of union dues means less money in employees’ paychecks and more money towards a system teachers don’t control. @MyPayMySayRI

The Center published a letter from the Bristol-Warren Education Association (BWEA, a local NEA union), that not only showed the union misinformed teachers, but also showed that only $174 out of the $821 in proposed annual dues were to go to their local NEA association. In August, the Center published a letter from the Bristol-Warren Education Association (BWEA, a local NEA union), that not only showed the union misinformed teachers, but also showed that only $174 out of the $821 in proposed annual dues were to go to their local NEA association.

The Center is currently compiling detailed data on exactly how teachers union dues are being spent, including what political agendas and candidates are being unwittingly funded by the dues of teachers across the state of Rhode Island. An initial report is expected soon.

Center Opposes All Three Ballot Questions

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity urges Rhode Island voters to reject all three 2018 ballot bond questions as too costly, near-sighted, and overly geared toward special interests.

Question 1, the largest bond question, would put Rhode Island significantly further into debt by spending a whopping $250 million to repair school buildings (and would ask for another $250 million in 2020), and is also flawed because it:

  • Bails out irresponsible city/town and school officials who have misappropriated existing local tax receipts by neglecting to address school building repairs over the years.
  • Lacks any long-term vision or strategy in planning for the anticipated educational environments of the future.

“Of course, no one wants unsafe schools,” said the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse, “but when we are talking about this much of a new burden on taxpayers, it is imperative that we are strategic in how we deal with this problem.”

More details on Question 1 below.

Question 2 asks taxpayers to fund $70 million in non-vital new higher education facilities that would mostly benefit other states, as far too many of our college and university graduates end up leaving the state in search of meaningful work. Until we develop a growing economy that can absorb new young workers entering the jobs market, this bond spending would not provide a good return on investment.

Question 3, an extension of the RhodeMapRI scheme, advances a dubious green-economy strategy by spending $47.3 million on a multitude of politically correct sustainable-development projects.

Special-Interest Government Spending Does Not Replace Grassroots Development. All three ballot questions are designed to help special-interest cronies. Because of Rhode Island’s dismal business climate, including a burdensome tax and regulatory structure, our state’s economy is not attracting enough grassroots private money for major capital projects. Instead, seeking work and dues from their employees and members, construction company insiders and labor union officials continually pressure government to spend taxpayer money on unnecessary public-works projects. Taxpayers also suffer a “double hit” because, unlike privately-financed projects, these government-funded boondoggles require abnormally high “prevailing wages” and mandate other costly pro-labor mandates.

Already Too Much in Debt. All three ballot questions would worsen an already burdensome debt problem. Historically, Rhode Islanders pass almost all bond questions that make it to the ballot, and no indications have emerged that this election will be any different.  If anything, consensus that the Ocean State’s public schools are in deplorable condition is translating into even-greater-than-usual consensus that we ought to saddle taxpayers with another $250–500 million in debt.

Broadly, Rhode Island is relying too heavily on debt to cover its bills.  The Mercatus Center at George Mason University puts Rhode Island’s long-term liabilities at 90% of the state’s assets, which is higher than the average state.[1]  Truth in Accounting’s State Data Lab gives Rhode Island a D for finances, with $8,288,881,000 in bonds and other liabilities, plus another $4,316,527,000 in pension and other retirement liabilities.[2]  A recent Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council (RIPEC) report finds Rhode Island already among the worst states when it comes to debt per capita and debt per income.[3]

More debt is not the answer to the Ocean State’s problems; it is a major problem in itself.  Adding $589,462,045 in principal and interest by passing the three ballot questions will make it worse.

The State of Rhode Island and its municipalities must be more prudent with the tax dollars they already collect — for example, prioritizing school-building maintenance over more frivolous projects.

More on Question 1. The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity agrees that our education infrastructure is in lamentable shape, but we encourage Rhode Islanders to vote to reject Question 1’s new borrowing on the ballot.

Wrong to “bail out” irresponsible local officials. Focusing on the biggest ballot question — the $250 million school construction bond — the incentives that it would create will be damaging, as well.  Making this money available to local school districts that have been negligent in maintaining their infrastructure will only reinforce their habit of letting basic maintenance slide in order to fund other priorities, like above-market-rate increases to government worker compensation.  The legislation allowing these bonds to go on the ballot provides insufficient incentive for our cities and towns to change their ways. Further, it is unfair to ask state taxpayers to bail out local communities.

What do the “education futurists” say? Taking an even broader view, we should also question the wisdom of making these massive investments when our society is changing so quickly.  What will education look like 20 years from now?  What sorts of spaces will students require?  The weight of debt will hinder Rhode Island’s ability to adapt and to innovate in the future.

The Center does not believe it is prudent to burden Rhode Islanders with decades of new debt in order to rebuild an arguably obsolete, century-old school model, especially when new educational-environment models are rapidly evolving.

Many “education futurists” no longer envision that large and cold school buildings with walled-off classrooms will be how our children will be taught in the coming years. Creating more-productive learning environments that take advantage of ever-evolving Internet and other technologies could mean that home-based or large online-lecture type instruction may increasingly become the norm. This educational vision would require a far different kind of school campus than what this half-a-billion taxpayer-funded bond might be wasted on.

The Center is not aware of, but is open to review, any kind of long-term strategic educational plan that would justify massive investment in a potentially soon-to-be defunct school model.