A taxpayer- and user-friendly "Pay-As-You-Go" approach to funding bridge and road upgrades in Rhode Island could save over $650 million as compared with the Governor's special-interest-friendly "bond and toll" plan, as published today in a report by the nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.
The total cost of the project would be more than doubled under the Governor's plan by lopping on massive and non-productive interest fees, financing costs, and a new toll-booth substructure that would do nothing to improve actual bridge and road quality for Rhode Islanders. Much of the project and its wasteful spending would enrich Wall Street and union insiders.
"We agree with the Governor that upgrading our infrastructure should be a high priority; but we differ in that we believe this prioritization must be reflected in the budget, by funding the project via elimination of other non-essential spending, " said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. "Lawmakers must show Rhode Islanders that they have the capacity to exercise some measure of budget discipline."
The report, Making RhodeWorks Work for Rhode Islanders, suggests that cutting corporate welfare is a good place to start, and lists other options totaling almost $170 million in potential cuts that can be considered in order to fund the estimated $50 million per year necessary under a 'pay-as-you-go' approach. If necessary, reasonable user fees can be part of the solution.
The report also questions: the high-cost of road construction due to exorbitant project labor agreements (PLA's); the cozy relationship between the RI Department of Transportation and union-dominated construction companies that has continually led to top-dollar being paid for sub-standard work; and the non-transparent process that could lead to further massive long-term debt for the state without voter approval.