Stop the over-the-top spending and waste

By Arlene Violet
Posted 1/6/20

I have a suggestion for a New Year’s resolution for state leaders, although it seems that the main person who needs to make it is Governor Gina Raimondo, since House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello …

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Stop the over-the-top spending and waste


I have a suggestion for a New Year’s resolution for state leaders, although it seems that the main person who needs to make it is Governor Gina Raimondo, since House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello seems to get it. In a recent interview the Governor pontificated about getting more money into the state coffers through increased income and sales taxes. Far be it from her to rein in the chronic overspending by some of her department heads and their mismanagement.

 Nary has a week passed without some revelation of government mismanagement. The $600 million plus UHIP computer system is akin to a runaway train. Besides coughing out vouchers to people who don’t qualify for assistance and then trying to recoup funds 5 years later, the Stater Medicaid program paid out $11.6 million to dead people (Rhode Island Monthly, January 2020, p. 54). There are also numerous examples of folks who qualified for food stamps but were unable to get needed food.

Department heads at the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals are fleeing from their respective posts, leaving huge deficits behind. The head of Veteran’s Affairs deflected criticism of his management by claiming he’s a “veteran” so he somehow should be exonerated from the $3 million plus cost overrun at the Veteran’s Home. Clearly, the administrators didn’t have a clue of the necessary funding required by the new Home in Bristol.

Fortunately, the Speaker of the House realizes that it isn’t a particularly good idea to throw good money after bad. Mr. Mattiello nixed a tax increase to close the state’s $180-200 million budget deficit. In an interview with the Providence Journal (12/19/19 p.A5) he correctly fingered the real culprit, i.e. an executive problem. The R.I. budget has increased $200 million year after year and the money gets swallowed up. The Speaker stated that there is a “tremendous amount of waste."

2020 should be the year that the chronic structural problems get addressed. The hiring of mouthpieces for state departments and whopping salaries dished out are over the top. While he is at it, the Speaker should also curtail the family health coverage and pensions for part time lawyers hired for an allegedly 60 day session.

I have often said that if state leaders spent their personal money on the fiscal fiascos that they champion we would see them wearing the proverbial “barrel” with a cup out for alms. Yet there seems no compunction to drive taxpayers into the poor house.
Will 2020 be any different? I think not if the citizens leave it up to elected officials. The only way for change to happen is by a taxpayer revolt. Citizens have to assume one more responsibility, i.e. fight the miscreants. In subsequent columns you will be reading about the fleecing of the state and you will be urged to action. The danger of exposing the profligate spending is that the public yawns, a  response that  will guarantee  business as usual. You will see the facts. Join in the fight for change. In a real sense this is a call for a New Year’s resolution to be made by the public. Show that you aren’t going to take it anymore.

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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