Serving the public: Don’t make promises you can’t keep
By Jan P. Malik
Imagine a rookie playing for the Red Sox who claims he will win Rookie of the Year honors, along with a batting crown, Gold Glove and also lead the league in steals. Even Red Sox Nation might be a little skeptical.
Imagine a candidate for a seat in the General Assembly claiming he will fix our economy, attract jobs to our state, correct our structural deficit and never miss a day of session.
Democracy is a process and the General Assembly is a body of 113 individuals. Progress is often slow and requires cooperation and collaboration. No one person, no matter how good his or her ideas, can bring enormous change, instantly, and certainly cannot do it alone.
My opponent in the District 67 election says he will reform Rhode Island’s tax structure and create jobs. He will reduce the state sales tax and eliminate the motor vehicle excise tax.
Lofty goals, and possibly something he could accomplish if he were elected King of Rhode Island and could simply order these things to happen. But he needs to realize that, as one of 113 legislators, he will have to work with others to accomplish anything and many of those other legislators may not agree with all his ideas.
He does not say what the fiscal impact of his plans are. Reducing the sales tax, for instance, would leave a $256 million annual hole in the state budget. Eliminating the auto excise tax would force cities and towns across the state to fill a $200 million hole in their collective budgets, money that will not be restored by the state, as it was in the past. What will the municipalities have as an option other than raising property taxes?
How does Mr. Costa propose to close this enormous financial gap? He doesn’t say. But then, apparently, he doesn’t really care how it impacts regular taxpaying families. In a recent article in the Warren Gazette, he acknowledged that he only pays sales tax, so I guess when cities and towns are forced to raise property taxes or auto taxes to address the enormous holes his plan will create, it won’t affect him.
So much for electing a Representative who has a clue what it’s like to be a normal Barrington and Warren resident, who pays taxes.
In the waning days of the election, Mr. Costa seems to be getting desperate. Why else would he mail out a brochure with attacks on me that are simply untrue. He claims I am somehow meddling with women and their insurance coverage, that I have not fought for appropriate funding for our regional school district, that my vote on pension reform has hurt police and firefighters and teachers when, in fact, the pension reforms we implemented are saving communities millions of dollars that would otherwise have to be generated through even higher property taxes.
Finally, my opponent suggests I am responsible for the 38 Studios disaster when, in fact, legislators who were voting on that financing measure for the EDC were not informed specifically where the money was headed.
I suppose if there are a lot of voters in District 67 who are gullible enough to believe Mr. Costa’s mistruths and distortions, they may vote for him.
But facts matter and the fact is I don’t make lofty promises I cannot keep. My only promise has been and continues to be that I will work as diligently as I can to help the residents of District 67 and all of Rhode Island to restore prosperity to our state.
Jan P. Malik