Speaker Shekarchi’s rosy picture flouts realities of RI


Sue Cienki is chairwoman of the Republican State Party.

Rhode Island House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, the most powerful politician in the state, recently wrote a commentary (“House’s achievements reflect priorities of our constituents,” Commentary, Aug. 28) in which he proclaimed all the achievements of the “outstanding” legislative session of 2022 under his leadership.

He waxes poetic about Rhode Islanders wanting to get back to a sense of normalcy, but fails to mention we are still officially under a COVID-19 state of emergency through at least Sept. 30. The reason we are still under a state of emergency is because of the General Assembly’s failure to limit the governor’s excessive powers.

While Mr. Shekarchi speaks of tax relief, he fails to mention that the General Assembly and the governor failed to provide broad-based tax relief from personal income, real estate property, and energy taxes this legislative session despite having more than a $618-million There was no suspension of the gas tax, and no suspension of the tax on our electric bills despite record high energy prices.

Speaker Shekarchi speaks of a member-driven institution and transparency, yet just like his predecessor, he refuses to have meetings of the Joint Committee on Legislative Services so that the public and members of the minority party can see exactly how the General Assembly spends over $50 million annually on itself.

Additionally, Mr. Shekarchi talks about how the budget was bipartisan. This cannot be taken seriously. The Democrats rejected all 11 amendments to the state budget offered by House Republicans, including relief from energy taxes for everyday Rhode Islanders. The state budget passing the House 61-9 and the Senate 33-5 is hardly a sign that the budget was bipartisan.

Rhode Islanders care deeply about the environment. However, the Act on Climate will lead to more problems, rather than solutions. For example, it could lead to more deforestation from the installation of solar farms pushed by politically connected solar developers. Wind and solar are costly and unreliable sources of energy. We cannot rely on these sources of energy for 100 percent of our electric, heating or transportation energy needs.

As for the recently enacted state budget, it was balanced with federal funds from the COVID-19 relief bills that passed in Congress. These relief funds are a one-time revenue source. The next budgets will not have the same level of federal funds, which means Rhode Island is headed towards a significant structural budget deficit.

Rhode Island is a beautiful state. However, with inflation, and the misplaced priorities and spendthrift policies of the General Assembly, it is becoming a harder and harder place for anyone to afford to live in.

Rhode Islanders deserve state legislators who are honest about the problems facing our state, and who will listen to their constituents and not just special interest groups and lobbyists who attend fundraisers.

It will never get better in Rhode Island unless we vote to change who is representing us at the State House.



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