Look up “dysfunction” in the dictionary, and you are not likely to see “the relationship between the Rhode Island governor and the General Assembly” as a definition. But you should.
The state House of Representatives put out a release last week trumpeting the fact that 32 bills related to economic development introduced to the body this year were made law, either by themselves or as incorporated in the fiscal 2014 budget. Much of the legislation had to do with setting up new reporting structures, advisory panels and mandated economic analyses to help the state perform better.
OK, that sounds like quite an accomplishment, showing the Ocean State’s citizens that their elected representatives care about the economic challenges they face. But the picture is a little more complex than that.
At the same time that the General Assembly was introducing all that legislation, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee was saying that the R.I. Economic Development Corporation, the government’s tool to help the economy grow, did not need any changes or help. All the past problems, he said, were the result of not having the right people in place, which he had remedied. In fact, the governor said that all the legislation had created a “spider web of responsibility” that was not likely to do much to improve Rhode Island’s economy.
It is too early to tell which of those 32 pieces of legislation will make a difference in the state. But one thing is for sure: When the executive and legislative branches of government don’t agree on such fundamental and important issues, it is difficult to imagine the state is better off as a result. •