Governor Lincoln Chafee is "Independent in Name Only", just as he was a "Republican in Name Only" during his ultra-liberal tenure in the US Senate. Now serving as "Chief executive" for Rhode Island, Chafee has signed onto tax increases with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature. No wonder he claims to be an Independent, just enough to convince voters to give him another shot at running for statewide office, but repudiating the Republican brand once and for all.
What's the legacy of the Ocean State under "Linc" Chafee?
Pension obligations have grown so enormous that they have transformed "Little Rhody" into "Greece along the North Atlantic." General Treasurer Gina Raimondo has had no choice but to outline the two stark choices before Rhode Island voters: either everyone takes a hit, from new public sector employees to long-time retirees, or the state will have to suspend all public services and transfer all revenues toward outlaying the lavish pensions and benefits to retirees.
The late John Chafee, who served as Governor of the Ocean State and then US Senator, discouraged collective bargaining for Rhode Island State Employees:
Chafee pointed out the “organizational problems inherent where the machinery designed for private industry is imposed on State employees.” Chafee explained, “Since wages, hours and practically all working conditions are now established by laws enacted by the General Assembly…or regulations,” collective bargaining for state employees will “inevitably” lead to “bad relationships between…employees and the State.” And this would result in “the public [being] the loser.”
"Linc" has hardly any "link" with his father the late John Chafee on this issue.
The Providence schools are some of the worst in the nation. A massive firing was the only way to move the school system toward any semblance of reform. One Rhode Island teacher took his frustrations to Youtube and announced his resignation, walking away from a $70,000 annual salary and generous benefits. All of that "Race to the Top" funding does not seem to helping.
The "for-profit" Sawyer School just closed, losing 75% of its financial aid, yet leaving hundreds of students in the lurch. Where was Governor Chafee to stop the federal dollars from this for-profit school (which apparently only profited the school administrators).
Rhode Island lost 354 people last year, and statewide income is leaving even faster. A record 24,000 people have left the state in the last decade. Like the Israelites who fled from Egypt's tyrannical Pharaoh, Ocean State natives are tired of the tide of high costs, higher regulations, and the year after year low ratings on business climate and innovation. Rhode Islanders love the food, love the ocean, but hate the taxes, the spending, the cronyism, the corruption, and the institutional incompetence. And the source of it all: "Democrats".
As for any restoration following Superstorm Sandy, President Obama had to call a "state of emergency". New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had no reason to hold back his vocal criticism of Congress for failing to release federal funding to rebuild and restore the Eastern Seaboard shortly after the fiscal cliff deal. Governor Chafee said nothing.
Currently, Rhode Island has the worst business climate in the country, worse than California. The transportation system has also received the lowest marks, along with terrible marks for economic growth, and one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. Rhode Island Republicans are the only ones pushing for tax cuts. Sales and use taxes are taking too much away from hard-working Rhode Islanders. Chafee has said nothing, has done nothing. Rhode Island Republicans demand "The Truth" from state and municipal governments about their pension obligations and the financial stability of their budgets.The only reason he won the Governor's seat is that the three-way election gave him a plurality of the vote. A better candidate from the GOP would help the voters take back their state from welfarism, public sector unionism, and teetering bankruptcy. Governor Chafee has offered nothing tangible in the way of economic leadership.
Perhaps "Linc" should take a peek at his father's legacy. As Governor, John Chafee resisted a state income tax. Only when he reneged on this pledge did he lose reelection. As US Senator, Chafee supported tax cuts, welfare reform, a "balanced budget" amendment, and a line-item for the President, even though the Supreme Court later struck down that reform. His stance on abortion would have offended pro-life advocates, but he endorsed marriage between one man and one woman, not permitting the state to force the voters to recognize a comprehensive change in the institution of marriage.
Governor Chafee, what would your father think of you and the state under your leadership?