Scott MacKay's Commentary

Monday 6:35 AM and 8:35 AM

With a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Vermont and a wealth of knowledge of local politics, it was a given that Scott MacKay would become a weekly commentator for RIPR on Ocean State politics.  He also sits on the RIPR Political Roundtable.

As a former political reporter for The Providence Journal, MacKay has spent more than thirty years documenting the ins and outs of politics in Rhode Island and New England. MacKay is married to Dr. Staci Fisher, an infectious diseases specialist.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island’s foundering economic is again the top Statehouse topic. Political analyst Scott MacKay has some thoughts as we at Rhode Island Public Radio kickoff our series on our state’s slow recession recovery. 

If Rhode Island was a lake, we’d all be drowning under the weight of decades of reports and high falutin  expert commissions charged with dissecting our state’s economic doldrums. Wonks, business leaders, academics and consultants have produced turgid chronicles – with scant results – on how to heal the sickest economy in New England.


Rhode Island has long been engaged in a debate about government benefits for the poor. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says our state isn’t as generous as most other New England states on helping those with less.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston has heard the complaints for years from conservatives and some elements of the business community:  That Rhode Island’s overly generous social welfare programs handcuff taxpayers and harm the state’s business climate.


The debate over moving the Pawtucket Red Sox from McCoy Stadium to a new ball park in Providence is raging. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time for serious study, not hyperbole.

Tis the season of renewal: Easter, Passover and daffodils. Along with the longer days comes the return of baseball to New England. It may be hard to believe after our  harsh winter, but in two weeks the season opens at Fenway Park in Boston and at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket.


Once again, Rhode Island politics is ensnared in a public employee pension controversy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time to put this issue in our collective rear view mirror.

It’s well past time to get beyond the noisy debate over public employee pensions in Rhode Island. It’s a joust that has ensnared  the Statehouse for more than a generation. It has long pitted the business community against public employees and their union leaders, fractured relations between conservatives and liberals and led to tortuous attempts for years to shore up the system.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay looks at the politics of our new governor’s taxing and spending plan.

It’s difficult to argue with the rhetoric behind our new governor’s $8.6 billion budget plan. In her televised address from the Statehouse last Thursday evening, Raimondo outlined her goals in a convincing fashion, hitting all the high notes.  Her smorgasbord of ideas provides a little something for everyone.


Gov. Gina Raimondo is scheduled to release her first state budget on Thursday. Part of the challenge is to slash a projected $190 million deficit.  So what will get cut? RIPR Political Analyst Scott MacKay tells us what to watch out for.

There is that ancient Statehouse cliché: If you want to figure out what a governor’s priorities are, check out the budget. Rhode Islanders get their first look at what our new governor, Gina Raimondo, values when she releases her spending and taxing plan for state government on Thursday.

John Bender / RIPR File

So is Rhode Island approaching a boon or a boondoggle?

Don’t get in line just yet for your luxury box seats at the new Providence ballpark that the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox want to build on the downtown Providence waterfront . The new owners and Mayor Jorge Elorza say any plan for a new  stadium is in infant stages.

While the move from Pawtucket’s iconic McCoy Stadium to a new site in Providence has drawn stellar initial reviews from the state’s political hierarchy and Elorza, the plans are a long, long fly ball from completion.


R.I. politicians love to talk about job-development plans. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders why they aren’t  doing more to ensure that Rhode Islanders are hired for the Electric Boat expansion in Quonset.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Once again, a Rhode Island General Assembly member has been arrested.Rhode Island Public Radio's political analyst Scott MacKay on why the charges against Rep. Joseph Almeida don’t fit the usual pattern.

The Rhode Island state police have nabbed Providence State Rep. Almeida for allegedly misappropriating about $6,000 in campaign money for personal use.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Big changes are in the offing for Rhode Island public education policy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what’s at stake.

After six years as Rhode Island’s top education guru, education commissioner Deborah Gist is headed to her native Tulsa to become school superintendent. Eva-Marie Mancuso, chairwoman of the state education board, is out. Barbara Cottam is slated to become the new leader of the board as Gov. Gina Raimondo puts her stamp on arguably the most important mission of government, educating  the young.

File/Aaron Read / RIPR

Rhode Islanders have been transfixed lately by snow drifts and the Super Bowl. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it’s time to look ahead to spring and the return of baseball.

Has dealing with that white mountain in your driveway reminded you that one never has to shovel humidity? Do you yearn for a sport where the balls can be scuffed, but not deflated?

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Cutting taxes is all the rage at the Rhode Island Statehouse.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders why lawmakers are talking about tax cuts before dealing with the red ink in the state budget.

Take a stroll through the corridors of  McKim, Mead and White’s marble palace on Smith Hill and you’ll likely bump into a lawmaker with a plan to cut taxes.


Today is the annual Martin Luther King Jr., holiday. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay ponders what we can do to advance King’s legacy in Rhode Island.

The great civil rights leader’s legacy will be celebrated across  Rhode Island today in song, sermon and remembrance.  Voices will echo with the strains of James Weldon Johnson’s `Lift Every Voice and Sing’ and that iconic anthem of the civil rights movement, `We Shall Overcome.’

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Warwick has become a Rhode Island economic success story. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses what the rest of us can learn from the state’s second-largest city.

One afternoon about 15 years ago, Lincoln Chafee and Scott Avedisian hiked up to the top of the parking garage at Green State Airport. As jets lifted off,  they looked at the huge swatches of undeveloped land nearby. Both quickly came to the same conclusion.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Jorge Elorza this afternoon will be inaugurated Providence’s mayor. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses the challenges the new mayor faces.

After impressive primary and general election  victories, law professor Elorza takes over the spacious second-floor office in the capital city’s Beaux-Arts City Hall. Since his election he has wisely reached out to the city’s warring political and ethnic tribes as he prepares to govern a 21st Century ancient New England port that had its beginnings in the 17th Century.