Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 01-02-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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8 OPINION JANUARY 2-8, 2020 | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER EDITION I have a suggestion for a New Year's resolution for state leaders, although, it seems, that the main per- son who needs to make it is Gov. Gina Raimondo. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello seems to get it. In a recent interview the governor pontificated about getting more money into the state coffers through increased income and sales taxes. Far be it from her to rein in the chronic over- spending by some of her mismanaging department heads. Nary has a week passed without some revelation of government mismanage- ment. The $600 million plus UHIP computer sys- tem is akin to a runaway train. Besides coughing out vouchers to people who don't qualify for assistance and then trying to recoup funds five years later, the Stater Medicaid program paid out $11.6 million to dead people, according to this month's R.I. Monthly magazine. There are also numerous examples of folks who qualified for food stamps but were unable to get needed help. Department heads at the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals are flee- ing from their respec- tive posts, leaving huge deficits behind. The head of Veteran's Affairs deflected criticism of his management by claiming he's a "veteran" so he somehow should be exonerated from the $3 mil- lion plus cost overrun at the Veteran's Home. Clearly, the administrators didn't have a clue of the necessary funding required by the new home in Bristol. Fortunately, the Speaker of the House realizes that it isn't a particularly good idea to throw good money after bad. Mattiello nixed a tax increase to close the state's $180-200 mil- lion budget deficit. In a Dec. 19 interview with The Providence Journal, he cor- rectly fingered the real cul- prit, i.e. an executive prob- lem. The R.I. budget has increased $200 million year after year and the money gets swallowed up. The speaker stated that there is a "tremendous amount of waste." Year 2020 should be the year that the chronic structural problems get addressed. The hiring of mouthpieces for state departments and whopping salaries dished out are over the top. While he is at it, Mattiello should also curtail the family health coverage and pensions for part-time lawyers hired for an alleg- edly 60-day session. I have often said that if state leaders spent their per- sonal money on the fiscal fiascos that they champion we would see them wearing the proverbial "barrel" with a tin cup out for alms. Yet there seems no compunc- tion to drive taxpayers into the poor house. Will 2020 be any differ- ent? I think not if the citi- zens leave it up to elected officials. The only way for change to happen is by a taxpayer revolt. Citizens have to assume one more responsibility, i.e. fight the miscreants. In subsequent columns you will be read- ing about the fleecing of the state and you will be urged to action. The danger of exposing the profligate spending is that the public yawns, a response that will guarantee business as usual. You will see the facts. Join in the fight for change. In a real sense this is a call for a New Year's resolution to be made by the public. Show that you aren't going to take it anymore. Violet is an attorney and for- mer state attorney general. Stop all the spending and waste! It was no surprise last month to read that Gov. Gina Raimondo told The Providence Journal "We (as in the state) need money." With all due respect, gov- ernor, so do we (as in the residents). Across the U.S., many states are awash in surpluses coming in from an improved economy. There is no surplus in Rhode Island, a state still tethered to a structural deficit that political lead- ers find difficult to tackle. We are an estimated $200 million in the hole, and the governor has already said we'll pay an extra 17 cents per gallon for gas outside the budget. I am pleased to see Raimondo does not support the doubling of the highest tax rate on top earners, a short-sighted idea sure to chase businesses and great jobs away to other states. It's simply far too easy for those earning high pay to flee to nearby Massachusetts to dodge Rhode Island's progressive overlords. And they will. No teachers On Dec. 18, Jeremy Chiappetta, chief executive officer at the Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy wrote in a Journal column that our state is running out of new teach- ers. Specifically, he wrote: "The Journal reported on Dec. 7 that teacher can- didates at Rhode Island College are down 50 per- cent over the past decade. And, I have been told that the total number of candi- dates for math, science, and secondary special education from Rhode Island College, the top producer of future teachers in our state, is less than 10 this year." You read that right. There are only 10 students who want to teach math, sci- ence, and special ed in the middle and high schools at RIC in this year's graduat- ing class. Chiappetta was ringing the alarm. If you have small children, there's big trouble on the horizon. He had some ideas worth exploring: Four years free college at RIC or URI in exchange for four years of classroom work, for exam- ple. He even asked for consideration of allowing young teachers into low- cost housing. Might I suggest we move on to starting new math and science teachers at a higher step pay on the 10-year pay ladders com- mon in public schools? As many "STEM" college students are being lost to higher pay in private industry, perhaps we can provide higher starting pay to STEM graduates in our schools. We don't need to re-invent the wheel; just start them at Step 5, for instance. In Cumberland, a new math or science teach- er might start at $57,752 (Step 5) instead of the $45,573 on Step 1. While the teachers' union under- standably aims for equality of pay in its ranks, there is a crisis brewing. Few are training for the math and science middle and high school teaching jobs that will be offered in the com- ing years. What are we going to do about it? End of an era? In the past week or so, there have been many stories written about "the decade in review" in news, sports, and politics. I couldn't help but think on Sunday that, right on cue, the New England Patriots' two extraordinary decades were coming to an end. The game against Miami was hard to watch, the loss forcing an extra playoff game on a very average team. Like all Patriots fans, I'll root and hope they can play above their heads for a four-game miracle run. Anything can happen, right? But Sunday left me thinking we've not only come to the end of the decade, but the end of the magic run here in Patriots Nation. Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze Who needs money more? The state or taxpayers? From the Publisher TOM WARD Poli-Ticks ARLENE VIOLET Founded in 1956 by The Burgess Family Volume LXIV, Number 44 January 2, 2020 @ Observer THE VALLEY BREEZE & ABOUT US The Valley Breeze Newspapers are a locally operated group of free weekly newspapers serving the people of Cumberland, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Woonsocket, Smithfield, Scituate, Foster, Glocester, North Providence, Pawtucket, R.I., and Blackstone, Mass. Each Thursday, 58,500+ copies are distributed to retailers, banks, offices, and restaurants and other busy spots. Circulation is audited by the Circulation Verification Council of St. Louis, Mo. and has earned its "Gold Standard Award." OUR MISSION It is the Mission of The Valley Breeze to facilitate a positive sense of community among the res- idents of Northern Rhode Island by providing a forum for the free exchange of ideas, and to provide information of local events and neighbors. It is our further Mission to provide the highest quality advertising at the lowest possible cost to retailers, professionals, tradespersons, and other service providers in order to enhance the economic well-being of our community. Thomas V. Ward, Publisher James Quinn, Deputy Publisher Jack Birolini, Director of Sales Ethan Shorey, Managing Editor Barbara Phinney, Controller

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