Former Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee is back in the public eye, opposing the spate of recent tax incentives that various state agencies have been granting to real estate developers as well as to companies moving or expanding in Rhode Island. Citing New York Times research indicating that education and infrastructure investments should be the focus of public expenditures, Chafee wrote the R.I. Commerce Corp. board, quoting the Times’ story, that Gov. Gina M. Raimondo’s current public incentive strategy was “foolhardy, shortsighted and senseless,” according to Rhode Island Public Radio.
Chafee has gone so far as to compare Raimondo’s strategy with the state’s failed investment in 38 Studios LLC, although the credits in these programs are not paid until the jobs and investments in the Ocean State are in place. Is Chafee right to make the comparison? Is the current administration’s approach to economic development a waste of taxpayer money?