Developing a Responsible Agenda for Rhode Island
The next election is only just over a year away, but it is clear that a more balanced General Assembly is needed to shape the agenda heading into the 2016 election and beyond. Such an agenda would have to include several main components: responsible budgeting, infrastructure repair, school choice, and a suite of high-tech proposals to get our economy moving.
On the budget front, our state debt is inexcusable. When you add in long term unfunded entitlement liabilities, despite the recent pension reforms, the situation is even more worrisome. A more balanced Assembly can and should use its powers to pass responsible budgets that establish some kind of glide path towards long term debt reduction and further entitlement reform. Bipartisan support for continuing to reduce taxes, and not establishing new ones, is needed to fix the state’s crumbling economy.
Outreach: The GOP has been bleeding young and highly educated voters in recent elections. Part of the reason for the poor showing has been the lack of a positive agenda to appeal to tech-savvy voters, such as scientists, hi-tech workers, doctors, and even some professors (mainly those in the hard sciences.) A responsible budget and a pro-innovation tax cut can have some appeal among these voters who think that the standard GOP agenda has little to offer them. These voters want to hear that the GOP has a plan for revitalizing our economy and taking advantage of Rhode Island’s knowledge-based economy. Other components of such an agenda could include supporting school choice and improving our K-12 public education system by having dollars follow children, rather than trapping poor kids in non-performing schools.
By taking these steps, the GOP in Rhode Island can show that it has a hand in shaping the 2016 and beyond agenda rather than reacting to it.
School choice has a number of aspects that should be populist and help reach new audiences. Despite some of the highest spending in the nation, RI public schools do not perform at acceptable levels. Too many RI kids, especially disadvantaged students, are being under-served by a public school system in critical need of major reform.
Yet public employee unions and their Democrat allies in government continually block education reform that can help low-income and all RI families choose a better educational path for their children. Who's the real bully? We support equal opportunity educational options for RI families, while leaders in the General Assembly now are actively working to limit options for parents.
We encourage Governor Raimondo to veto the anti-charter school legislation, if it makes it out of the General Assembly in the fall session. Democrats passed legislation that would effectively stop charter school expansion and would send many students back to failed public schools. Education scholarship accounts be made available for all RI families. Democrats blocked related legislation from moving forward in 2015. The Roosevelt Society stands up for the educational rights of every RI family and wants every student to have a bright future. The Assembly now stands with special interest unions who's primary interest is protecting the system.