Hey Look We're Doing Something About the Economy!

The General Assembly's Joint Committee on Economic Development meets today for the fourth time in two years: meaningful work or political grandstanding?

When I was considered for appointment to the Joint Legislative Committee on Economic Development last year, I jumped at the chance. Given Rhode Island's high unemployment rates, fiscal duress, and a general failure to thrive, it seemed like a very important assignment. It hasn't been. The Committee has met only three times over the past two years and produced no legislation or recommendations, even as Rhode Island's economic and jobs performance remain amongst the worst in the nation. Taken together with the Majority's legislative program during the term, it is clear that creating an employment friendly environment in our state was not a priority. 

This afternoon, five weeks before the election, the Committee will convene at the State House. Ostensibly, the purpose of today's meeting is to receive a report just prepared by RIPEC addressing Rhode Island's economic development function. To a political observer however, the purpose seems a bit less sincere: with an election at hand, we must be seen as doing "something" about our economy.  

The Providence Journal has already recieved the report, and the headline this morning says it all: "Rhode Island lacks clear vision for growth." The story is all too familiar, and immediately brought to mind an email that I sent to my campaign supporters on August 28:  

"Yesterday’s Providence Journal featured a front page profile of the RI Economic Development Corporation, emphasizing its dysfunctional history and the failed taxpayer investment in 38 Studios.  The picture emerging from that article matches up with what I observed at the General Assembly during my first term:  failed leadership, lack of vision, and zero urgency to address Rhode Island’s extremely high unemployment.  As the article makes clear, legislative power brokers are content to carry on business as usual, completely out of touch from the needs of this state and the circumstances of the unconnected."

I'll try to remain optimistic that this afternoon's hearing produces meaningful discussion about serious issues, and is not simply an opportunity for political grandstanding.  More importantly however, I sincerely hope that the the leadership's new focus on our economy lasts longer than the next five weeks. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Renee Cwiek September 30, 2012 at 01:40 AM
The editor of the SK/Narragansett Patch seems to have a different opinion than the Tiverton Patch: Stephen Greenwell 4:38 pm on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 We don't allow Carlin's seven, but everything else is usually fine. It's not the Sunday comics page. I just found this to be interesting.
DSilva September 30, 2012 at 01:52 AM
And doing one thing right does not excuse all past sins either. My suggestion would be for anyone in a similar situation to ignore the taunts and focus on the issues. Agree tolls is a tremendous issue for the island and will not be a good thing for anybody.
Leave RI October 01, 2012 at 01:42 AM
PolitiCrap rates all the southern RI politicians "pants on fire"....it's like a SAWNA in here.
Leave RI October 01, 2012 at 02:39 AM
wait..grammar police..I already know sauna is the correct spelling..it was a line from a commercial I spelled phonetically to make the point


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