PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity has published the General Assembly Freedom Index, a scorecard that grades Rhode Island’s lawmakers on their “level of support of principles of freedom,” according to the center.
The index, released Thursday, rated the Rhode Island General Assembly with a score of -25.4 during the 2012 legislative session.
“It is clear that the undesirable -25.4 Freedom Index for the entire General Assembly means that significantly more votes undermined freedom than preserved it and that, in our state, citizens have fewer liberties today than a year ago,” Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the center, said in a statement.
On the Center’s index, the House of Representatives scored -24.1, with House Democrats at -32.2 and House Republicans at +28.8.
The Senate scored -27.9, with Democrats earning a score of -36.3, Republicans +1.0 and the independent -18.3.
“We believe freedom is necessary for prosperity. It’s all too common for legislators to trade the intent of a bill for an infringement on our liberties - and this practice must stop,” said Stenhouse.
Stenhouse went on to say that the center’s index provides “important transparency” for citizens and raises “compelling questions” including whether or not voters will “accept this continued loss of liberty.”
To calculate scores, the Center selected 96 legislative bills that were deemed to have an effect on free-market, small-government or constitutional principles. Each bill was assigned a positive or negative weighting of +/- 3, depending on perceived importance. Weighted points were given to each legislator based on his or her roll-call vote.
Bills were divided into five categories: tax and budget, regulatory environment, constitutional government, public sector labor and education reform. According to the Center, perfect scores for the 2012 legislative season are 106 for the House and 116 for the Senate.
On the index, the highest ranked lawmaker in the Rhode Island General Assembly was Rep. Doreen Costa, a Republican from District 31 (Exeter and North Kingstown), with a score of +59.2. Comparatively, the top-ranked Democrat was Rep. Peter Palumbo from District 16 (Cranston) with a score of +0.5. Palumbo was the only Democrat to score above zero on the Center’s index.
Overall, Rhode Island Democrats earned a score of -33.5 and Republicans earned a score of +16.5.