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Caprio's Pre-Emptive Strike

With independent gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee set to hold a press conference this afternoon detailing the vacant office space in state government buildings and the hefty rents the state is dishing out to lease from private landlords, Democratic rival Frank Caprio is issuing a pre-emptive strike via press release:

In another act to cut spending in his office, General Treasurer Frank Caprio will be moving the Office of the General Treasurer out of its current leased space at 40 Fountain Street in Providence to a presently unoccupied state-owned building in Warwick. The move, which was voted on and approved by the Retirement Board two weeks ago at the urging of Treasurer Caprio, will save the state approximately $4 million over the next 10 years.

"The state needs to make the same decisions that every Rhode Island family is making each and every night at their kitchen tables," said Caprio. "It doesn't make sense to continue to pay more than $620,000 in occupancy costs in a leased space when we could be working in a state owned building for 1/7 the cost. It is common sense and the result is going to be a real benefit to tax payers."

The Treasurer's Office had been working on moving into an unused state facility for the past six months due to the pending expiration of the 10 year lease for its Fountain Street office. The lease was already in place prior to Caprio taking office. Since taking office, Caprio's oversight has resulted in an average annual budget savings of 10% and a $17 million dollar reduction in investment management costs...

Over the past five years, the state has saved approximately $4 million by moving out of privately leased space and into state owned buildings.

An interesting dynamic is shaping up in the early sparring between Chafee and Caprio. Chafee seems to be playing the fiscal mechanic. First, he made a politically risky proposal for what amounts to a sales tax hike. And today's press conference will be all about trimming government waste. Caprio's message, meanwhile, is focused on the world beyond government: small business and jobs.

The latter probably feels more relevant to the average voter. But Smith Hill's fiscal woes are extreme, at the moment. And in a state that pays closer attention to the government budget than most - due, in no small part, to the ProJo's close coverage of the State House nitty-gritty - he'll be forced to play fiscal wonk, too, as this little tete-a-tete over office space suggests.  

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