Rhode Island and Sisyphus Plantations

While I'd like to claim credit for coining the subject line in this post, that honor goes to URI professor of economics Len Lardaro, who uses it to describe the Ocean State's seemingly perpetual budget problems.

Lardaro and Governor Carcieri joined Steve Aveson and myself for a taping this morning of WPRI-WNAC TV's Newsmakers. The gov, as part of a media offensive following the State of the State, was slated to tape WJAR-TV's 10 News Conference immdiately afterward.

Anyway, in case you're not familiar with the myth of Sisyphus, click here. It's an apt metaphor for how the state and its political leaders seem incapable of coming to terms with Rhode Island's fiscal woes.

On a related note, I asked Carcieri how much responsibility he bears, after five years in office, for not being able to better advance his agenda and to outflank legislative Democrats. He responded by talking up the partisan imbalance in the General Assembly and how things would be better with more Republicans.

This brings us back to the circuitous nature of our politics: sure, a more competititve two-party system would be a good thing, but the gov hasn't had much success in bringing it about. And for various reasons, [articularly a lack of long-term thinking, the budget outlook just gets worse.

Lardaro believes that voter dissatisfaction will bring a number of new lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, into office this year, and that that will have a salutary effect.

We'll have to wait to see if the professor is right. In the interim, state officials will have to keep rolling budget deficits up the proverbial hill.

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