There's no easy way to divvy up a $1 billion pie. There will always be complaints about someone getting a larger piece than someone else, or some getting none at all. However, in terms of problems to have, it's for sure better to argue over how to spend
There’s no easy way to divvy up a $1 billion pie. There will always be complaints about someone getting a larger piece than someone else, or some getting none at all. However, in terms of problems to have, it’s for sure better to argue over how to spend $1 billion in available money than not have that money at all. Such is the situation that the General Assembly and Gov. Dan McKee now face as we approach the pivotal decision-making time when it comes to spending the first allocation of American Rescue Plan funding, which comes in at around $1.1 billion.
Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi has openly discussed the conundrum of how to decide who is worthy, and who is more worthy than others, to receive this money, and how much. Hearings at the House and Senate will hopefully shed more light on the most pressing needs within the state, and guide policymakers in their difficult job to assign values to issues associated with human needs and challenges wrought or exacerbated by the pandemic.
McKee has gone a step further to use the investment of ARPA money as a springboard to launch a comprehensive sort of 10-year plan, with the goal of using this once-in-a-century kind of federal stimulus to promote investments that will pay dividends economically and socially down the line. This is the right approach to take, and we’re happy to see that kind of forward thinking from our governor.
But the proof will be seen throughout this process. In a state as small as Rhode Island, special interests linked to those with the ability to levy influence will always become an issue when deciding who is more worthy than others to receive dollars. Legislators must resist the urge to pull favors or display favoritism towards causes they care about personally or financially, and defer to the overwhelming consensus of the public. This is too important of an opportunity for egos or agendas to get in the way.
We hope that the people of Rhode Island will take part in these conversations, at the State House or at community meetings for the governor’s RI 2030 plan (one of which is coming up on Nov. 2 at CCRI in Warwick). Only through vocal advocacy will there emerge a clear consensus upon which the state can channel this money to create the most possible good, for the most possible people.
We look forward to seeing the results of these conversations and will be watching closely as recommendations for spending become known.
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