As we mentioned yesterday, local leaders have been hysterical in opposing a plan to making up for a $220 million shortfall in the state budget by chopping $125 million in state aid to local communities. One mayor accused Gov. Carcieri of ‘destroying’ cities and towns while another said the governor was pulling the plug on his community’s life support. It’s important to put this whole discussion in context. The proposed cuts come off as more reasonable than draconian when recent studies on municipal over-spending in Rhode Island are taken into consideration.
First, check out this report (scroll down to page 5) that reveals state aid grew by 17 percent, from $780.5 million in 2004 to $913.2 million in 2009. Clearly, this is an area of higher spending that could use some trimming. Now do some quick math. Subtract the first number from the second and you will get: $132.7 million, which is awfully close to what Carcieri is proposing as a cut. Now if the sky wasn’t falling in 2004, somehow we think Ocean State communities will avert disaster this time too. Here is another important study (scroll down to page 4 for relevant synopsis) that shows Rhode Island is the eighth highest spender on elementary and secondary schools, 11th for police, and first for fire protection. Clearly, if anything is being ‘destroyed,’ it’s the savings of taxpapers.
Now go to RI Data (www.ridata.org) and view your municipal contracts. The Governor cut wages by 3%. What did your town do?