UNLEASH RI: An Alternative Vision


The UnleashRI task force will soon introduce its free-market recommendations in response to the government-centric recommendations contained in the Brookings report.

Watch CEO Stenhouse on NBC 10 Take on the Brookings Plan for Rhode Island!


STATEMENT: Brookings Report – Corporate Welfare Spending Looks Like Greenhouse Compact 2

January 19, 2016

Brookings Recommendations Do Little To Advance Equal Opportunity for Most Families or Business Owners, While Dishing Out Corporate Welfare to the Insider Few
Center to lead local-national task force to offer “UnLeash RI” alternative economic vision v. Brookings’ “Greenhouse Compact circa 2016”

Providence, RI — Calling it more of the same insider cronyism that has hampered the Rhode Island economy for decades, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity blasted the recommendations in the Brookings Institution report, released today, as an extension of the controversial RhodeMapRI agenda that places misguided priority on targeted ndustries and locales, while doing little to aid average families or to improve the state’s dismal business climate.

Also critical of the process that has seen Governor Raimondo, the RI Foundation, and the Brookings Institution in an all too cozy quid pro quo financial scheme that advances a federal agenda, the Center also questions the philosophical underpinning of the report. Instead of trusting in the capacity of Rhode Island citizens and businesses to innovate on their own in a less burdensome free-market business climate, the Brookings report suggests that an elitist cabal – led by State Government, academia, crony corporate partners, and insider nonprofits – should centrally engineer the state’s economy.

“Instead of a centrally-planned government-centric economy that hands out more corporate welfare to targeted industries, our state needs broad-based reductions in taxes and regulations that will free-up every Rhode Islander and business to organically improve their quality of life and growth in a free-market economy,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “How can this crony plan possibly promote the Governor’s stated goal to advance equal opportunity for all Rhode Islanders?”

Gary Sasse, former state budget director and current director of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership, agrees that the report is just business as usual. “How is the Brookings report that targets specific growth industries any different? Will it turn out to be Greenhouse Compact circa 2016?”

Sasse will join with the Center and other national economists and think tanks to form a joint task force to advance the Center’s “UnleashRI” initiative. The initiative’s core philsophy is that freeing Rhode Island from over-reaching government intervention is the key to economic growth, as opposed to more government intrusion per Brookings. The UnleashRI task force, which will provide additional analysis on the Brookings Report and soon present its own recommendations, currently includes:

  • Stephen Moore, nationally renowned free-market expert and Chief Economist at the Heritage Foundation
  • American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), publisher of the annual report, Rich States, Poor States
  • J. Scott Moody – nationally renowned economist and CEO of Federalism in Action
  • Gary Sasse
  • Mike Stenhouse and Justin Katz from the Center


Comments From Gary Sasse On Brookings Plan Of Rhode Island’s Economy:

iu-11) The economy has changed, but too often approaches to sustainable economic growth do not. In 1982 RI voters rejected a central planning approach to economic development.  How is the Brookings report that targets specific growth industries any different? Will it turn out to be Greenhouse Compact circa 2016?

2) The goal of state economic development policy must be to enhance competitiveness and unlock innovation. States compete to offer the most productive environment for markets to grow and prosper. Harvard University’s Michael Porter told the National Governor’s Association, “Competitiveness is the only way to achieve sustainable job growth, improving wages, and stable public finances.” He noted that the most competitive states make the most productive use of their human and capital resources. Making the most productive use of RI resources requires structural reform such as getting needy kids out of failing schools, retooling technical education aligned with business needs at scale, and creating a competitive business cost structure by reducing UI costs, limiting commercial property taxation for all not only preferential tax deals, and simplifying regulation and permitting. Can identifying targeted sectors and activities without first making fundamental structural reforms make RI more competitive?


Gary Sasse is Founding Director of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University. He is the former Executive Director Rhode Island Public Expenditure and State Director of the Departments of Administration and Revenue.



Quote From Scott Moody On Brookings Plan Of Rhode Island’s Economy:

“Typical cronyism … is there a special interest rock left unturned? My initial reaction is that this is a grab bag of goodies … and more spending.”

J. Scott Moody – nationally renowned economist and CEO of Federalism in Action



3/15/16 The Providence Journal: Brookings Institution report calling for new spending draws rebuttal

1/20/16 630 WPRO: CEO Stenhouse with Dan Yorke

1/20/16 GoLocal Prov: Former RI Director of Administration Blasts Brookings Report as “Business as Usual”

1/19/16 The Providence Journal: Brookings Institution ‘bullish on Rhode Island’

1/19/16 ABC 6: Analysis: RI should invest millions in ‘future’ industries to improve economy

1/19/16 PBN: Brookings study: R.I. needs to innovate to move forward

1/19/16 WPRI 12: RI panel adopts Brookings economic plan as state strategy

1/17/16 The Providence Journal: Justin Katz: Shipping RI decisions to DC

Press Releases:

1/19/16 STATEMENT: Brookings Report – Corporate Welfare Spending Looks Like Greenhouse Compact Two

From The Ocean State Current:

1/20/16 Something Like a Conspiracy of the 1%

1/18/16 Hearing Beyond the Brookings Rhetoric

11/2/15 A Bit of Jujitsu to Come from Brookings

9/4/15 With Raimondo, REMI, and Brookings, Providence Journal Plays Insider Footsie

8/14/15 Brookings Backers Backed Raimondo, Too

8/13/15 The Brookings Activity Guide for the RhodeMap

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