What a difference a few feet make

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As a kid, I lived on the border of Massachusetts and used to jump over the border regularly. Fun for us was rock fights, with one side being Rhode Island and the other the Bay Staters. What a difference a few feet made back then, and still do now.

Massachusetts may be growing accustomed to Governor Patrick’s biweekly billion dollar proposals, but Rhode Island seems headed in a different direction. Governor Carcieri, facing a deficit quite a bit smaller than our $1.1 billion shortfall, is moving to

  • Cut what probably approaches 10 percent of RI’s state employees, and
  • Bid out as much work as possible to minimize ballooning public salaries, pension and health care liabilities.

The Providence Journal article quotes Carcieri as saying:

“I am fully aware that I am placing the burden of resolving our state’s financial future on the shoulders of our employees[.] But my responsibility is to the average Rhode Island taxpaying families who put me here. I must act on behalf of all our citizens, and must fix this now for the sake of our children and grandchildren’s future.”

Savings are to amount to $26 million in FY08 and $40 million in FY09, according to the Journal, and occur almost immediately. Privatizations would save $15 million. Notwithstanding the threat of lawsuits, the Governor assured everyone at his press conference that he will assert his authority to lay off state workers without legislative approval. Couple of Carcieri quotes from the Journal article:

“This is not something we do willy-nilly[.] We’re going to have to look at discrete functions that make sense to privatize and outsource.”

“I’m going to march ahead because we have to do this. If we don’t do this, I’m going to be standing here next year same time same place telling you we have a much worse problem.”

A line in the woods is what separated us as kids. Now it seems like a world away.

Even if Governor Carcieri isn’t your cup of tea, you have to admit that Rhode Island has some very nice beaches, Saugy hot dogs, coffee syrup and, yes, better restaurants. At what point will it have a comparable business climate?

Ask Fidelity.