ARLENE VIOLET – Stop all the spending and waste!

ARLENE VIOLET – Stop all the spending and waste!

I have a suggestion for a New Year’s resolution for state leaders, although, it seems, that the main person 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 overspending by some of her mismanaging department heads.

Nary has a week passed without some revelation of government mismanagement. The $600 million plus UHIP computer system 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 fleeing from their respective 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 million 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 million budget deficit. In a Dec. 19 interview with The Providence Journal, he correctly fingered the real culprit, i.e. an executive problem. 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 allegedly 60-day session.

I have often said that if state leaders spent their personal 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 compunction to drive taxpayers into the poor house.

Will 2020 be any different? I think not if the citizens 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 reading 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 former state attorney general.

Comments

Great article, Atty. General Violet! It's very sad to see how many politicians are so incompetent, irresponsible, and worthless in their respective positions. Then, they wonder why people don't trust them and view them as so-called wrongdoers! When seeking to be elected, they make all sorts of promises to the people, but after being elected, most of them only seek more power and more money! Excessive spending has become a great problem in ALL governments, but especially in Liberal states. God help us all when the “bill” does come in! AMEN!

I wholeheartedly agree. It's disturbing that the Governor's response to GA leaders is that she will use $600K+ in her political war chest to reward legislators who support her budget requests. Wake up, Rhode Island!