A plan unveiled Tuesday by Rhode Island GOP gubernatorial candidate Patricia Morgan would scrap truck tolls, reduce taxes, add three Quonset-style business parks, and create an office of inspector general to help pay for some of the lost revenue.
Morgan began a news conference at her Warwick campaign headquarters by asserting that Rhode Island is in worse shape than indicated by a falling unemployment rate and rising construction in Providence. She said the state still suffers from a dearth of good-paying jobs and that too many young people continue to leave in search of opportunities elsewhere.
"For years, I've been saying that we have to change the way we run government in Rhode Island and we haven't done it, despite all of our leaders saying they're going to be focused on jobs and the economy, they're going to, what, 'move the needle,' " Morgan said. "All they've done is put more bad laws and bills. Oh yeah, they've given a few things to business. But they've also given them tolls, they've hidden 38 Studios documents, they've taken care of insiders over and over again. That's not helping our economy. My plan will."
Morgan, 67, a former chairwoman of the state Republican Party, first won election as a state rep from West Warwick in 2010, and she now serves as the GOP leader in the Rhode Island House of Representatives. With Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and businessman Giovanni Feroce, she is one of three Republicans set to square off in a primary election on September 12.
The West Warwick Republican, who has about half the campaign money as GOP rival Fung and is not as well known as the Cranston mayor, said she will win the primary through "better ideas" and ruled out the possibility of making a change to pursue a different office.
"I've been outspent in every campaign that I've run, probably eight to one," Morgan said. "And I still win, because I have better ideas and I speak to the people of Rhode Island. We have a plan, we're going to execute it, I'm going to get my message out. But at the end of the day, it is about who brings the best vision for Rhode Island, and I think I have it."
During her news conference, she unveiled the first part of a plan she called the Blueprint For A Stronger Rhode Island.
If elected, Morgan vowed to cut red tape and to refuse any tax increases. Her plan calls for eliminating the inheritance tax, which is often called the "death tax" by Republicans; eliminating Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo's plan to impose tolls on large trucks; and eliminating the income tax on military veterans' pensions. She also proposed a tax credit for companies that helps employees to pay their college loans.
The four-term state rep said she wants to change the focus of Commerce RI, the state's economic development agency, to revising and reducing business regulations. Morgan called for adding three business parks, a la Quonset, in different parts of the state.
Morgan said the $80.5 million cost of her initiative would paid for by $191 million in projected savings
The GOP candidate said the savings would come in part from embracing lean business practices and creating an office of inspector general to reduce fraud and waste. “An inspector general returns the cost of that office between 12 and 18 percent," she said. "So not only we save money, we’ll also have cost avoidance, because people will stop doing things they shouldn’t do because they’re afraid they’re going to get caught.”
Morgan said she would end the practice of using "scoops" from various agencies to close holes in the state budget and prohibit year-end "use it or lose it" spending. She said she would require a new request for proposals (RFP) and competitive bidding whenever change orders increase the cost of a state project by 20 percent.
In related news, Morgan called for Feroce to leave the race and focus on business problems. The Providence Journal reported that Feroce faced civil arrest for missing a court hearing.
"I do think he should not be running," she said. "He has a lot of problems in his life now. I think he would better serve himself and the people of Rhode Island if he took time to straighten out his life."
On Twitter, Feroce tweaked Morgan by saying, "I did it all on purpose so you all wouldn't hear about Patricia's blueprint for Rhode Island news conference today, It worked perfectly."