For Rhode Island being the smallest state, it packs on the unnecessary spending. Cue Rhode Island’s new “Waste-O-Meter.”
Republican legislators uncovered a whopping $6,967,000 in alleged wasteful government spending in just 10 instances, with help from Providence Journal investigations.
"They report findings and citizens fume about the waste,” state. Rep. Patricia Morgan (R) said about the revelations. “After a few days, the frustration dies down and the people of Rhode Island continue with their busy lives, forgetting about the latest assault to their wallets. Those in charge are not held responsible for the waste and so it continues, without corrective action, no one is held accountable."
One of the bigger culprits in wasteful spending is the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
The atrocities include:
-$3.1 million in reimbursements to the Federal Highway Administration for DOT for not meeting quality standards for Route 195 construction.
-$750,000 that the state paid to a Wickford Junction shopping center to settle a breach of contract lawsuit. The Providence Journal called it “a few more dollars to the cost of Rhode Island's underutilized Wickford Junction train station.”
-$195,000 in salaries for three DOT employees paid during a five-and-a-half month leave.
$383,000 “and counting” in salaries DOT paid to staff transferred to other agencies
-$381,000 in uncollected overpayments to the Cardi Corporation and D’Ambra Contruction that DOT recently reimbursed the Federal Highway Administration for.
-$154,000 for consultants to discuss alternatives to barriers on the I-Way bridge in 2013. The bridge used temporary barriers after a crash revealed the railings were not properly installed and could potentially allow large vehicles to break through and fall into the river.
-$1.3 million in “unnecessary overtime”
-$360,000 in “newly invested positions”
There’s a good chance more wasteful spending is lurking in the shadows. For that purpose the lawmakers have created a hotline and email address for the public to contact.
But the story of taxpayers’ woes does not end there.
Rhode Islanders pay a 7 percent sales tax, more than 1 percent over the national average (5.95 percent) and the third highest cigarette tax at $3.50.
Worst of all, they fork out the 11th highest money at the pump, paying a 33-cent gas tax. Now taxpayers know a good chunk of that money is being sent into oblivion by their friends at the Rhode Island DOT.
If the state was more transparent on how it spends the budget, more officials could be held accountable for these instances of government waste.
But surely the tiny state with not-so-tiny taxes could break the record of $6.9 mil in wasteful spending. That total could just be the beginning of wasteful spending, the Republican lawmakers hint.