Carcieri's Double Trouble

Not for Nothing, but second terms commonly prove more problematic for chief executives than the first time around the block.

I might have overstated things a bit when I wrote in December about the post-election outlook facing Governor Carcieri. Yet despite the governor's continued upbeat tone, it doesn't bode well when his ideological supporters on the fourth floor of Fountain Street sternly take him to task today, with a stinging double-hit.

First, the editorial board gives Carcieri some appropriate grief for the hiring of his pal Jim Rosati at Beacon Mutual. Then, in an even sharper piece, Ed Achorn says, We need an alarm, not cheerleaders. The eloquent Mr. Achorn goes on to cite a litany of woes:

•Unusually generous health and pension benefits for public employees are fueling massive deficits at the state and local level, with no end in sight, choking off the taxpayers’ ability to fund what seem to be far worthier things.

•Census figures suggest well-educated, middle-class people are moving out of Rhode Island, fleeing high taxes and a dearth of employment opportunities; the poor are moving in, drawn by remarkably expansive and long-lasting welfare benefits.

•State House corruption appears to be a serious problem.

•Rhode Island’s economy is sputtering, failing to produce the job growth and tax revenues needed to fund its big government. Yet politicians, Mr. Carcieri included, refuse to kick-start the economy by making full use of Rhode Island’s obvious maritime advantages through the expansion of port business at Quonset Point.

•The usual approach of “solving” the deficit by raising taxes would surely batter the economy and drive away more taxpayers, ultimately depressing tax revenues and further damaging the quality of life.

•Great public schools are crucial to our children’s future and economic growth, but Rhode Island’s are among the country’s most expensive per-pupil, and generally perform poorly, while special interests block significant reforms. (The governor, commendably, devoted the majority of his speech to the need for better public schools.)

Clearly, Carcieri faces a serious challenge in creating the outcomes that will allow him to leave on the same cheery note upon which he arrived in office in 2003. 

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