Speaking of 2010, General Treasurer Frank Caprio, while steadily deflecting questions about his forthcoming gubernatorial run, continues to dramatically elevate the public profile of his current position.
Following Governor Carcieri's televised budget address on Wednesday, for example, Caprio commented on WJAR -- an opportunity that came after communications director Tim Gray made the treasurer's availability known to various media outlets. Caprio says he also appeared on WLNE the same day.
As part of a series of visits he's making with the media, Caprio, joined by Gray and deputy chief of staff Xay Khamsyvoravong, stopped by the Phoenix this afternoon, depositing copies of a 30-page bound volume, headlined, "A New Way of Doing Business."
For now, here are some brief highlights from the treasurer's visit:
-- Caprio said he's making his tour, in part, because of the level of interest in economic issues.
-- Asked whether Governor Carcieri is essentially passing a tax increase onto cities and towns, Caprio answered by saying that the state budget has gotten smaller, so cities and towns should be expected to make some trims.
-- In a preview of a likely campaign message, he pointed to his promotion of how Rhode Island doesn't tax clothing sales as an example of how the state needs a more robust style of leadership. "We can be a first mover out of this [downturn] if we have the right salespeople from the stateside of the desk," Caprio said.
-- Carcieri faced "a steep learning curve" when he came into offfice, and there are "different opinions" about members of the governor's team, Caprio said diplomatically, adding that he thinks the governor now has a firm grasp of how the process of state government works. The treasurer likened the situation to that facing Deval Patrick after he took office in Massachusetts.
Carcieri's budget address showed that a governor "can direct the state in a way that people will pay attention to and follow," if they buy into the message.
-- Asked if Governor Carcieri might support him for governor, Caprio, whose family is known to be friendly with the governor, said, "I wouldn't even consider that."
-- The treasurer declined to bite when I asked how he might negotiate Lincoln Chafee's presence in a three-way gubernatorial race.
-- Following the report this week that RI housing sales dropped 20 percent over the last year, Caprio said he expects the decline to continue this year. He nonetheless said that the private sector must be the driving force in improving the impact of the foreclosure crisis in RI.
-- Describing himself as "an advocate of leveraging technology and modernizing the process [of government]," Caprio said he supports, "in concept," Carcieri's drive to get the global Medicaid waiver.