Lincoln Chafee

After too many years of giving short shrift to public higher education in Rhode Island,  the General Assembly and state government appear to have finally begun to reverse this short-sighted policy.

In the budget that cleared the House Finance Committee on a 14 to 2 vote Thursday, the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island have won some important initiatives.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

On a 14-2 margin, the House Finance Committee Thursday approved an $8.7 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July first.  Lawmakers say they hope tax cuts will bolster Rhode Island’s underperforming economy.

At the behest of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Cale Keable, D-Burrillville, the Rhode Island House has finally voted to ratify the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,  which reqired direct election of U.S. Senators.

Before the amendment took effect in 1913, senators were elected by state legislators. That system was widely criticized for breeding corruption as senate aspirants bribed lawmakers to secure the votes needed to win senate seats.

Aaron Read / RIPR

The House Finance Committee is expected to vote this Thursday on a new state budget for the fiscal year beginning July first. The General Assembly traditionally makes significant revisions to the governor’s proposed spending plan.

It has become a Rhode Island cliché that Lincoln Chafee is a failed governor because he hasn’t done enough to create jobs in Rhode Island’s flagging economy.  This notion has been driven relentlessly by talk radio shills and the editorial and news pages of the state’s legacy print media outlets, some of which are groping for relevance in a reshaped media environment.

A variety of speakers from across the Rhode Island political spectrum will hold a Statehouse rally this afternoon to urge the General Assembly to oppose paying off the 38 Studios bonds.

Among those speaking are Larry Girouard of the R.I. Taxpayers group, spokes people from the R.I. Libertarian Party, the R.I. Green Party and Occupy Providence, the local offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Providence is Rhode Island’s most diverse municipality. The capital city is home to just about every segment of  Rhode Island’s rich ethnic, racial and socio-economic  mix.

Thus Providence is a reliable prism through which to view the never-ending debate over the master lever. What the data show is that the some of the proponents of abolishing it have, as  Ricky Riccardo used to say to Lucy on the old Lucille Balll Show, ``some 'splanin to do.’’

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Eliminating the master lever in Rhode Island elections is picking up steam in the General Assembly. RIPR political analyst  Scott MacKay says getting rid of straight party voting may be much ado about not much.

The Rhode Island House of Representatives recently voted unanimously to end the so-called master lever, a relic of the state’s urban political machine past. A conga line of statewide elected politicians, from Gov. Lincoln Chafee down to Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, support this change.

Standard & Poor's Rating Services has put Rhode Island's credit on watch with negative implications due to ongoing debate about paying back bondholders who invested in the failed video game company 38 Studios.

In an advisory released Monday, S&P said it was lowering the rating on bonds issued by the Economic Development Corporation for 38 Studios in 2010 from A to BBB.

So here’s another report that shows just how badly the General Assembly has fumbled the 38 Studios ball. Gov. Lincoln Chafee has released a financial consultant’s report that shows that it would cost less for the state to pay off the 38 Studios  bonds than to default.

The finding, by the firm SJ Advisors, states that Rhode Island’s credit rating would take a significant hit if the state walked away from the $75 million in  bond obligations to those who invested retired Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s folly, 38 Studios.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

A report commissioned by the Chafee administration has found that even under the best-case scenario, Rhode Island will be better off paying back bondholders who invested in the failed video-game company 38 Studios.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Pablo Rodriguez joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the latest developments related to 38 Studios; competing legislative plans on funding infrastructure improvements; Governor Chafee's effectiveness as a lame duck; and the impact in Rhode Island of climate change.

RIPR FILE

What’s worse than the 38 Studios fiasco for Rhode Island ‘s political and economic reputation? RIPR political analyst  Scott MacKay points to the aftermath.

It’s been nearly four years since  then- Gov. Donald Carcieri, the state Economic Development Corporation and the General Assembly foisted the disaster that is 38 Studios on Rhode Island taxpayers.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Marcel Valois, executive director of Commerce Rhode Island, will embark on a European trade mission that will be focused on meeting with executives of companies that have expressed an interest in establishing operations in Rhode Island.

Chafee’s press office issued a statement saying that these company executive officials are interested in Rhode Island due to the state’s ``proximity to Europe, as well as the location in the busy northeast corridor and the convenience of TF Green Airport, industrial ports and rail and highway transportation systems.’’

RIPR FILE

Colleges, even state colleges, are too expensive and beyond the financial reach of some students. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst  Scott MacKay on why college is still a great investment, both for taxpayers and students.

Fast upon us 'tis season of Lilacs, caps and gowns and those desultory commencement speeches about life being a journey. For too many seniors these days, the sheepskin comes with an avalanche of student loan debt.

Pages