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.


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.


Tis the season to be Jolly. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay reminds us that not everyone enjoys the holidays.

For most Rhode Islanders, this is a sacred time of the year. As we gather together with friends, family and food, most of us will be giving thanks and turning our thoughts to those New Year’s resolutions.

Yet, before the first strain of Auld Lang Syne is sung on New Year’s Eve, we all need to take a  moment or two to remember that not all of us are surrounded by family, opening gifts, dipping into the eggnog and tossing another log on the fire.

CVS Health

What to make of the news that CVS Health, which is headquartered in Rhode Island, is opening a high-tech center in Boston.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay has some thoughts.

Rhode Island-based CVS Health employs more than 7,000 workers in our state. The pharmacy giant calls Woonsocket home, but the recent news that it is opening a high-tech center in Boston sent shivers through segments of the business and  economic development community in a state with New England’s highest unemployment rate.

First Student Company

It sometimes seems as if all of our contemporary debates over education revolve around high-stakes testing. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says our schools are neglecting an important topic that isn’t tested.

Trying to figure out what’s happening in education nowadays is an exercise in futility. You have to learn a new language suffused with psycho babble and techno-speak:  educators use terms  like rubrics, social-emotional learning and  site-based management..


Rhode Island’s Democratic General Assembly leaders want to exempt pensions and social security from state income taxes. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if this makes sense in our cash-strapped state government.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, have both said that one of their top priorities when the Assembly convenes in January is legislation that would end income taxes on pensions and social security.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Conservatives love to say that liberalism and political correctness have led to a `War on Christmas’ RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says the war is actually against Thanksgiving.

The Thanksgiving turkey hasn’t been stuffed yet but the frenzy of Christmas shopping has begun with the annual blizzard of tinsel and glitz. Stroll into your local CVS and you are greeted by shelves festooned with overstuffed Santa Claus figures.


When Rhode Islanders head to polls next week, they will face an important issue that a recent poll shows most Rhode Islanders don’t either know about or understand. To shed some light on the issue, Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay takes a look at the Constitutional Convention.

Scott MacKay’s commentary can be heard every Monday morning at 6:35 and 8:35 on Morning Edition and again during All Things Considered. You can also follow him at the “On Politics” blog.


The major candidates for Rhode Island governor have spent much of their campaigns focused on the economy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what they aren’t telling voters.

All of the Rhode Island political campaigns this year are talking about our state’s sluggish economy. In the governor’s contest between Republican Allan Fung, the Cranston mayor, and Democrat Gina Raimondo, the state treasurer, jobs and the economy often seem to be the only topic.