In the WSJ: Rhode Island's Ruinous Narrative Lives

The governor has affixed his signature to a law that will drop the highest marginal tax rate from 9.9 percent to 5.99 percent in what officials are hoping will be a public relations coup with the unfortunate reputation for a bad place to do business.

But the national press, at least today, is focused on the tales of economic ruin that Rhode Island has been broadcasting for months on end. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at Central Falls' receivership and wonders if it is a sign of things to come for strapped municipalities. From the piece:

Central Falls, a small and deeply troubled Rhode Island city, has handed control of its finances to a receiver, a rare step that many in the $2.8 trillion municipal-bond market are watching to see how stressed municipalities may deal with deepening fiscal problems.

The city of about 19,000 people, a third of whom live in poverty, is struggling with growing budget deficits and the need to pay interest on about $17 million in general obligation debt.

It is a common story in towns and cities across the country, although Central Falls, whose slogan is "City with a Bright Future," has chosen to take a different path in efforts to pull itself out of trouble.

This is the second time this week the WSJ has turned its eye to the Ocean State. On Monday, the paper's editorial board came out in opposition to a federal judgeship for Rhode Island trial lawyer and Democratic Party activist Jack McConnell. From the piece:

There may be one less trial lawyer practicing in Rhode Island soon. The bad news is that President Obama has nominated one of the East Coast's most notorious plaintiff attorneys and Democratic partisans to the federal district court in the Ocean State...

In 2003, Mr. McConnell wrote in the Providence Journal that "We Democrats should stand for an active government" including the "right to health care," and support for labor, including increases in the state minimum wage. Rhode Island's Democratic Senators, Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, are both admirers and recommended him for a judgeship. Mr. Whitehouse was Rhode Island Attorney General when the state partnered with Motley Rice on the lead paint lawsuit, and both politicians have profited from Mr. McConnell's political support.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the nominee has donated more than $8,500 to Mr. Reed over the years, while $8,400 went to Mr. Whitehouse and another $3,500 to his PAC. Mr. McConnell hasn't been known for donations to Republicans, but Motley Rice did kick $7,700 to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who is encouraging Republicans to stop opposing the nominee.

Ahh, financial ruin and political back-scratching. The Rhode Island narrative lives on.

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