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State of the State: not so hot

Speaking of the ProJo, the Sunday version of Rhode Island's statewide daily was on its game yesterday with a quartet of stories that combine to sum up some of the state's greatest challenges:

-- Things had been quiet on the surface for months with Operation Dollar Bill before Mike Stanton swooped in with an update: in short, the FBI is scrutinizing whether state Senator Stephen Alves of West Warwick -- who is no longer in the employ of UBS Financial Services -- killed a tax-incentive measure for a Pennsylvania company to punish Johnston mayor Joseph Polisena for not investing town funds with Alves. While the probe raises questions of a possible pay-to-play scenario, the fact that the company located in Johnston even without the tax-incentive underscores the generally dubious quality of using tax-incentives in economic-development.

-- Katie Mulvaney had the story of how the oysters, quahogs, and crabs that once flourished in salt ponds like Charlestown's Foster Cove have become scarce, most likely because of development.

-- Steve Peoples recounts the growth of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families, whose budget has increased to about $230 million, from $30 million in the early '80s, and how despite that, the state's child welfare chief is leaving DCYF because, he says, Governor Carcieri has not properly prioritized protecting vulnerable children.

-- Writing in the business section, Benjamin Gedan notes how hundreds of layoffs at Amgen are raising serious questions about the state's biotech sector.

In short, corruption remains a concern, the environment is going to hell, social dysfunction is rampant, and the economic outlook is, at best, mixed. Any questions?  

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