Falling deeper into the hole

08Mar10

The Providence Journal did a pretty good job showing what’s wrong with the state and its budget, but the writer didn’t really seem to dig far enough or ask the hard questions.  Let’s take a look.

In 2009, the Assembly passed a budget that it knew wasn’t balanced, in spite of receiving a balanced budget from the Governor, and then ripping him from pillar to post on all the changes he wanted to make.  Then, when the revenues didn’t match the bills to be paid, they went back to the Governor:

“The House and Senate passed a joint-resolution late last fall urging the Carcieri administration to produce a corrective-action plan, known as a “supplemental budget,” by Nov. 16.”

So the Governor first gave them a plan that would have worked, they said no to it, did their own thing and then went back to the Governor and said “that didn’t work, give us another plan”.   He did that.  What have they done with that one?

Nothing.  Nothing has been done.  Well, some things have been done.  The members of the Assembly and other local politicians have publicly criticized the Governor for his suggestions.  I always find it interesting when people blame the Governor for problems with the budget, where money gets spent and when things need to be cut.  But get this, the Governor has never cut a single program, he’s never removed a single dollar from the state budget.  All the Governor does is *suggests* and the Assembly then acts on those suggestions.

If I was Don Carcieri, with the new budget season coming up (without the prior one being done yet), for his last budget of his career, I would submit a hand-drawn picture of Mickey Mouse on the back of a cocktail napkin.  There you go, there’s my budget, work with that.  I’m outta here.  Now that would be a statement.

And how about the leadership shown in the Assembly on this.  Here we have Steven Constantino, the House Finance Chairman.  The man responsible for drafting the final budget.  The man who signs his name on the bottom of the budget and submits it for passage each year.  What’s his response in all of this?

“Hopefully, this corrective-action plan is going to come immediately.”

Huh?  “Hopefully”?  Who is he hoping to come up with it?  He’s had the Governor’s plan on his desk for almost three months.  What else does he need?  He could submit a supplemental budget today if he wanted to.  But no, “hopefully” the plan will come immediately.  Maybe it’ll be spelled out in a nice bowl of Venda pasta.

Any guesses on why the Assembly is in no hurry to get anything done?  Ever had any question about who this Assembly really answers to?  This quote should be a tip-off:

“I don’t know what the timetable is.  I’m just waiting… A lot of the things in there would be detrimental, so we’re in no rush.”

Who uttered those words?  AFL-CIO President George Nee.  Coincidence?  Sure smells fishy to me.

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