What’s on Your 2013 Legislative Wish List?

Dan McGowan looks into his political crystal ball and gleans a look at what we can expect from the upcoming legislative session and a number of the bills on his radar are also on the wish list for local progressives. Among them: marriage equality, tax equity, payday loan reform and voter ID revisions.

To this list, I would add a few more:

  • Pension reform amendments: After all is said and done in court, or even while it’s all being said and done in court, the General Assembly could put the issue to bed once and for all and negotiate a more equitable deal with labor, the way Providence did and Cranston is doing. This could be as simple as less uniform age of retirement to scaling back the defined contribution aspects of the plan.
  • Restoring some state aid to some cities. Last session, Gov. Chafee tried to help Rhode Island’s most struggling cities by offering Providence, Woonsocket, Central Falls and West Warwick “tools” that would have eroded collective bargaining rights. A better way to stabilize the situation would be to re-institute state aid to cities and towns.
  • One way to do this would be to make the education funding formula even more progressive than the revamped model calls for. As it stands, Rhode Island suffers from this dynamic: while East Greenwich is considering getting every high school student an iPad, in Central Falls and Pawtucket every student doesn’t always get their own text book.
  • Marijuana legalization. If Rhode Island wants to balance its budget and attract economic growth here, legalizing it would be a great way to kill those two birds with one stone. Colorado and Washington are expecting gigantic tax windfalls from their decision to do away with pot prohibition.

Did we forget anything? If so, please let us know in the comment section below what’s on your legislative wish list this holiday season…

 

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Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

5 responses to “What’s on Your 2013 Legislative Wish List?”

  1. Mark Gray

    Sustainable funding for public transit.

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  2. DogDiesel

    Right to work legislation.

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  3. PinkHatLib

    “Pension reform amendments… the General Assembly could put the issue to bed once and for all and negotiate a more equitable deal with labor, the way Providence did and Cranston is doing.”

    Wha? I thought that was the General Treasurer’s job!

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  4. Barry

    As Mark said above, we need sustainable transit funding, but perhaps also incentives for its use such as a “Upass” bill that the ATU bus union has proposed for public colleges.  For example, URI-Providence, even though it has good transit access from all directions, at much expense provides “free” parking for all students (and faculty/staff) but no incentives for transit use.  Indeed state government has the same policy for all state workers, thus promoting congestion, pollution, and carbon emissions and the export of our energy dollars.

    Other environmental intiatives at the Assembly might be implementing “producer responsibility” whereby producers of stuff that winds up in the limited capacity central landfall have incentives to minimize this, and related, incentives for minimizing one-use plastic bags; restarting anti-litter programs (we have a litter tax”)adequately funding DEM’s enforcement activities while providing timely customer service.

    I would also like to see attention to measures to combat dangerous driving, keep mandatory use of seat-belts (now sunsetted);  also, property taxes being a burdensome form of taxation, especially in lower income towns, a review of unfunded mandates that burden cities and towns (for example my town must go thru yet another expensive re-evaluation) while encouraging regionalization whenever appropriate.  There are also a variety of “good government” issues to consider – ethics committee jursdiction over legislators, pro-and-con statements on ballot referenda, campaign financing, maybe voter initiative allowing citizens to propose legislation.       

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  5. nmtaxes

    My wish list would be to consolidate all the services of the 39 cities and towns into one.  One police department, fire department, school system, etc.  With only a million people in such a small geographical area it doesn’t make any fiscal sense to be so diluted.
     

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