State Revenue Director Rosemary Booth Gallogly has strong words for state Representatives Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, Jon Brien, and Robert Phillips after they failed to back a supplemental tax for cash-strapped Woonsocket in last-minute negotiations in the waning hours of the legislative session:
In April, the Woonsocket City Council took a courageous vote to authorize a 13% supplemental tax bill. No tax is a good tax, and no local official likes voting in favor of a tax increase. But the Council members recognized that this was the only way to avoid further financial decline for their city. I want to thank Mayor Fontaine, Senators Cote and Picard, and the Senate and House Finance Committees and Leadership for their efforts, and especially commend the willingness of House Leadership to work until the last possible moment to achieve passage of the supplemental tax bill.
Unfortunately, the Woonsocket House delegation failed to demonstrate the same level of courage and foresight. After many months of attempting to achieve consensus on a solution that would avoid fiscal collapse and additional state intervention, they failed to make the difficult yet necessary choice to protect the city and its residents in the long-term.
Representatives Baldelli-Hunt, Brien, and Phillips have done their city and their constituents no favors by failing to agree to what is necessary to begin to take steps to truly address the significant challenges facing Woonsocket.
While it might have been politically expedient for the Governor to cave to short-sighted pressures, the demands made by the House delegation were outside of the authority of the Executive branch – a fact of which they were well aware. Additionally, the delegation’s demands would not have resulted in the required impact on Woonsocket’s fiscal situation. The Governor therefore had no choice but to reject these unrealistic requests.
The Governor has worked to make this the year of the cities and towns at the State House, but the Woonsocket House delegation’s failure is only another example of the disconnect between Smith Hill and Rhode Island municipalities. I am disappointed that some members of the General Assembly refused to make the tough decisions that would have paid dividends in future years.