RI general assembly

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The recent 38 Studios lawsuit disclosures have provided an inside view of how Rhode Island state government let you down. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay points to other state agencies in dire need of oversight.


Once again, a Providence mayor is ensnarled in a bitter battle with a city employee union, in this case, the firefighters. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if the capital city should go back to the future with city workers.

John Hawkins, the former RI Senate majority leader, father of the R.I. Lottery and a political power in Rhode Island for generations, died early Monday of a stroke. He was 80.

He was active until the last few hours of his life, said his nephew, William Hawkins, who along with other family members was at Hawkins bedside at Rhode Island Hospital when he died at 12:20 a.m. He had stopped one of his favorite spots, Twin Oaks in Cranston just hours before collapsing at his Providence home.

Aaron Read / RIPR

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo wants to raise the salaries of some of Rhode Island’s top state employees, a move Republican State Chairman Brandon Bell calls ``absurd.’’  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses the latest dust up over state employee salaries.

There’s a Rhode Island cliché: Question: Which state worker makes too much money? Answer: Anyone who makes more than I do.

RIPR File Photo

A new coalition of community and organized labor groups called `Rhode Island Working Families’ is forming in the Ocean State to lobby the General Assembly and conduct grass-roots organizing around issues dear to working and middle-class families.

So far, the coalition includes Teamsters Local 251, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, the United Auto Workers union, the Restaurant Opportunities Center, UniteHere Local 217, Demand Progress and the Service Employees International Union 32bj.


Work is the fulcrum of social mobility in our country. In Rhode Island, lawmakers have approved an increase in the minimum wage. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says that falls far short of what’s needed to help the working poor.

Democrats claim to be the party of working people. Come campaign season, Democratic candidates boast at every turn that they care about ``working families’’ more than Republicans, the party Democrats brand as the tool of the rich and the one-percent.

Rhode Island motorists will pay a penny more per gallon of gas, beginning tomorrow (July 1), under tax changes announced by the Rhode Island Department of Revenue.

The gas tax hike was due to an inflation indexing formula that the General Assembly approved in 2014.

Cigarette smokers will be paying an additional  25-cents per pack in Rhode Island taxes beginning August 1 under the budget for fiscal year 2016 approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Dave Barber, a familiar face at the Statehouse and reporter for Capitol Television, is hospitalized in his home state of Michigan after suffering a stroke and a heart attack, according to a Michigan newspaper.

Barber, 60, a former radio talk show host in Michigan and Rhode Island, was visiting Flint when he apparently choked while eating, blocking his airway and triggering other medical issues.

Barber is a patient at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan and is in a medically induced coma, according to his brother Larry Barber.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The high cost of government in Rhode Island is once again in the forefront, as voters in Coventry dissolve the Coventry Fire District. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay asks if this can be a spur for consolidation in our tiny state.

In a referendum  Coventry voters resoundingly refused to give any more of their property taxes to the stanch the river of red ink drowning the Coventry Fire District. They  turned thumbs down on the fire district even though it provides fire and emergency services to the most densely populated part of the community..


Rhode Island’s General Assembly and Gov. Gina Raimondo have reached agreement on her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what the new budget will do and what it lacks.

The $8.7 billion state budget for the financial year that begins three days before the Bristol 4th of July parade  seems greased for approval at the Statehouse. As is usually the case, this spending and taxing plan contains elements Rhode Islanders should cheer yet   fails to address some of our little state’s crying needs.

One of the principals of the new Pawtucket Red Sox ownership has died abruptly and was laid to rest over the weekend.. RIPR Political Analyst Scott MacKay assays the future of the Providence stadium plan.

Jim Skeffington cut quite a figure in Rhode Island. The Providence native scaled the heights of the legal profession in his hometown and was the go-to-guy for political and business deals. His bespoke bankers’ pinstripes and Ferragamo ties masked a sharp understanding, from the bottom up, of Rhode Island’s florid political and business cultures.

The sweat box that is the Rhode Island Statehouse in the summer months may become a thing of the past.

David Axelrod’s fine and quite well-written new political memoir entitled `Believer: My Forty Years In Politics’ has some interesting insights on Patrick Kennedy’s early career, in which Axelrod had a role.

In 1994, Axelrod, who would later become Barack Obama’s political consigliere, was the media consultant for Kennedy’s first campaign for Congress in Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District. Kennedy, just 26, had served five years in the RI House of Representatives as a rep from Providence’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

Rhode Island motorists will see a small increase of one-cent in the gasoline tax on July 1, 2015 to account for inflation, according to the state Department of Revenue.

This tax, known commonly as the state "gas tax" will increase from 32 to 33 cents per gallon, based on calculations from the state Division of Taxation. This adjustment is required under state law.

Federal Wildlife Service

A push to legalize marijuana – once again – has returned to the Statehouse.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses what has become a perennial issue.

Except for speeding on Rhode Island’s roads, is there a law more frequently scoffed at by citizens than the ban on recreational use of marijuana?
As the General Assembly again tackles the prickly issue of legalizing marijuana, it is well beyond the time for rigorous study of a policy that too often devolves into cliché and anecdotal opinion.