RI general assembly

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.

Nick Mattiello has only been House Speaker for two days. So it may not be fair to criticize his committee and leadership choices; he had to throw together his team very quickly.

But it hasn’t escaped notice that Mattiello’s new team has given women lawmakers short shrift.

The new speaker has named three committee chairs: Ray Gallison, D-Bristol, takes over the House Finance Committee; Cale Keable, D-Burrillville, assumes control of the Judiciary Committee; and Robert Craven, D-North Kingstown becomes the new chairman of the Municipal Affairs Committee.

The stench of corruption has once again encircled the Rhode Island State House. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it may be time to try something different on Smith Hill.

Unless you have been living in one of those 1950s-era nuclear bomb shelters, or the old East Side tunnel, you’ve probably heard of the latest Statehouse scandal. The state police and federal IRS and FBI agents raided the offices of House Speaker Gordon Fox 10 days ago. The next day he abruptly resigned.

UPDATE: Williams (Labor) Ajello (Judiciary) Melo (Finance) out as committee chairs as Mattiello takes over.

As has been the case since its days as a British colony, Rhode Island’s florid political culture is once again enmeshed in upheaval because of chicanery in high places.

The abrupt demise of Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox of Providence means another episode of   `As the Rhode Island Statehouse turns.’

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Once again, Rhode Island is attracting national attention for all the wrong reasons. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay has some thoughts about the federal raid on Speaker Gordon Fox’s office.

The specter of corruption in high political office haunts Rhode Island. As it has seemingly forever. For a state still in the grip of the recession, there are few things worse than the scene at the Statehouse Friday.

State Rep. Ray Hull, D-Providence is seriously considering running for the Democratic nomination for mayor in the Sept. 9 primary.

Hull is  a Providence police sergeant who represents House District 6, which takes in parts of the neighborhoods of Manton, Mount Pleasant and Fruit Hill near the Providence College campus.

Whither Clay Pell’s campaign for governor? RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay has some thoughts.

How do you know your campaign is in trouble: When your car is getting more attention than your ideas.

That’s what’s happening to the infant campaign of Clay Pell, who would like to be our next governor.

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RIPR FILE

In the famous words of Yogi Berra, `it ain’t over till its over.’ RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay explains why that’s the case with the latest twist in Rhode Island’s public employee pension settlement.

In many a long legal  battle, a settlement reached out of court marks the end of a contentious lawsuit. The opposing parties shake hands and sometimes share an odd drop. Then they put the dispute behind them.

In most protracted court battles, a settlement reached after tortuous year-long negotiations marks the end of a lawsuit and allows the parties to move forward. Often the lawyers celebrate and perhaps even share an odd drop together.

That wasn’t the case Friday. The  proposed legal settlement between the state and the unions that represent public school teachers and state employees and retirees is just the beginning of a cumbersome ratification process that is sure to become ensnared in what is shaping up as a contentious political campaign season in Rhode Island.

What everyone in the Rhode Island political swirl should understand about the state pension overhaul settlement details that are due for release tomorrow: This is very likely to be only the beginning of a protracted process.

One thing we know for sure. Even if it is fair and reasonable, not everyone is going to like it. Some unionized state employees and teachers will not be satisfied with anything less than a full restoration of the pension benefits that were sliced dramatically in the 2011 special General Assembly pension session.

In the run up to a Super Bowl between two teams from states that have legalized marijuana, thus giving whole new meaning to the term Bud Bowl, pollsters are taking the pulse of public opinion on  the issue in other states.

Today, Public Policy Polling released a public opinion survey that shows 53 percent of Rhode Island voters support changing the state’s laws to sell, regulate and tax pot in a manner similar to alcohol.

One of the biggest nostrums these days from conservatives and some elements of the business community is that our governments, at both the state and national levels, should cut down on regulation and oversight of business.

While it makes sense to streamline regulations that hamper small business, in particular, it is also instructive to parse our history for instances where lax regulation caused pain for our people and our economy.

Buried deep in Governor Chafee’s budget is a provision that would save Rhode Islanders several million dollars annually by ending corporate welfare for the beleaguered newspaper industry.

Currently there are more than 250 requirements for legal notices and advertisements to be published in newspapers. These are the agate type legal ads for such things as foreclosures, tax liens, bankruptcy proceedings, public board meetings and the like.

Governor Lincoln Chafee has delivered his final state budget proposal and given his final State of the State speech. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay parses Chafee’s Last Hurrah.

The cliché says: show me your budget and I’ll figure out your priorities. When it comes to Gov. Chafee’s final budget, that may be a trite description, but it’s true.

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