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  The Providence Republican Party wishes to respond to Mayor Ciccilline's recent State of the City address. We have suggestions on how to improve education for all our children, hold down taxes and spending, and provide honest, ethical government.
Population: 176,862
Elevation: 115 feet
Land area: 18.5 square miles
Providence Republican Response
To Mayor's 2006
State of the City Address


We applaud Governor Carcieri for proposing to give an additional $3.9 million in school aid to Providence in this year's state budget. Since the state will not raise taxes; and the General Assembly will not take money away from the other 38 cities & towns to give to Providence; we urge the Mayor to accept this aid graciously and not demand even more.

We also commend the Governor for proposing to give $600,000 more to the Metropolitan Career & Regional Technical Center (The Met), a network of small alternative High Schools in Providence.

And we especially commend the Governor for proposing an end to the moratorium on Charter Schools, which benefit Providence more than any other city. ( Rhode Island is the only state in the nation which legally blocks the creation of new Charter Schools, that provide a superior education at low cost, due to their freedom from burdensome teachers union controls). Providence currently has the legal limit of 4 Charter Schools (Textron, Cuffee, Highlander & Times 2), but would easily have a dozen or more if allowed to. The Mayor should support legislation to allow Providence an unlimited number of Charter Schools.

We also praise the Governor for trying to make it easier for scientists and engineers to teach math and science in the Providence schools, without having to take all sorts of worthless education courses to gain certification.

We also give credit to the Governor for having the state take oversight over Hope High School, and starting the process to straighten it out. While the Mayor tries to claim responsibility for this, we note that the State Department of Education had to step in, after the city and the teachers union were unable or unwilling to act.

We applaud the efforts of School Superintendent Donnie Evans to improve public education in Providence. But we recognize that he cannot succeed unless we find ways to reduce costs, relieve overcrowding, and provide competition that forces the teachers union to relax its stranglehold on needed reforms.

The time has also come to consider using school vouchers for private & parochial schools, as a way to reduce the city's education costs. This would eliminate overcrowding; end cross-town forced busing; remove the need for costly new buildings; and improve education for everybody.


To balance the city budget without raising taxes, we call on the Mayor to look for ways to spend less, while still providing the same level of services. Specifically, we call on the Mayor to actively support Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey's "Taxpayers Relief Act Of 2006", a creative series of bills that would allow cities to spend less money, by relieving them from unfunded state mandates. Laffey's legislation would relieve the city from several costly mandates, involving school busing, special education, and property revaluation. The legislation would also lower pension costs by raising retirement ages and reducing cost of living adjustments; waive some education regulations; clarify management rights on privatization, layoffs, pensions & health insurance; and control health costs.

We also call on the Mayor to propose additional cost-saving legislation not included in Laffey's bills. We suggest repeal of the prevailing wage law, that drastically drives up the costs of construction work and services contracted for by the city. We also call for an "Unfunded Mandates Act", that would relieve cities from complying with any mandates that are not funded 100 percent by the state.

The School Department offers the best opportunity for reducing spending, since this is 55 percent of the city budget. We say there should be fewer children in costly special education programs, which cost twice as much per child as regular programs. The percentage of children in special ed in Providence (and in R.I. as a whole) is double the national average.

We urge the Mayor to follow Mayor Steve Laffey's wonderful example in our neighboring city of Cranston. There, Mayor Laffey has successfully taken on special interests (like the crossing guards), and has been able to convince most unions to accept reasonable compromises on health benefits and work rules. Providence needs to do the same.


We join the Mayor in urging the Democrat - controlled City Council (14 Democrats, 1 Green, & no Republicans) to finally pass an Ethics Ordinance. But we would go further than the Mayor's proposal. We ask the Council to refuse all contributions from city workers or people who do business with the city. This would encourage even more economic development in Providence.

There are many people who wanted to bring their business to our city under the previous administration, but were unwilling to pay bribes, kickbacks, or political campaign donations. Now, these businessmen are streaming into our city, knowing they do not have to pay up. If the City Council would do its part, we could do even better.

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