Governor Chafee is making his final push for a municipal financial rescue package with a nifty new video called "Momentum." But the latest word on Smith Hill is that the package doesn't have much momentum at all: only a few of the less controversial measures are expected to pass.
Is this a sign of the governor's weakness? Sure. But it's not just about Chafee; the governor's office, institutionally, is weak in Rhode Island.
And it's not just his weakness at play here. Watching Chafee's video, which gives heavy play to the Rhode Island mayors who lined up behind his package, you can't help but think about the municipal chiefs' limited clout on Smith Hill. Even with a fiscal crisis in full bloom and an important ally in the
governor's office, it looks like they won't get what they want.
The real concern among legislators, gearing up for re-election, is passing reform that could hurt public sector workers just a year after passing sweeping state-level pension reform. Watering down Chafee's package is hardly a courageous manuever. But this is politics.