The deficit-reduction plan offered yesterday by the governor is classic Carcieri: 1) set himself firmly against the status quo and the Democrat-dominated General Assembly; 2) target greater privatization and fewer state employees; and 3) leave the legislature to try to figure it out.
Rumors started circulating yesterday morning of a gubernatorial plan to cut 1000 employees. If, at first blush, it sounded like a stretch, the governor made clear his desire to challenge the status quo -- in a big way.
While these cuts might strike the public as severe -- and in a little state like this, they could conceivably damage the local economy -- the public seems more likely to side with Carcieri than the General Assembly.
Reaction has broken along partisan lines, with Democrats citing the governor's plan as a sign of his penchant for confrontation, and Republicans hailing Carcieri's determination to cut the cost of state government. Regardless of one's view, no one can deny that state spending has grown excessively for years -- at about twice the rate of inflation -- and that one-time fixes are no real way to remedy the situation. Meanwhile, many questions remain about Carcieri's plan, including where his proposed cuts will take place and what impact they will exact.
A couple of months ago, Speaker William J. Murphy, during the opening House session, offered a nod to bipartisan cooperation. That now seems a long time ago. Stay tuned for a wild and wooly end to the legislative year.