To the Editor:
I'm the Pawtucket House Dist. 60 state rep. I fully support the proposition, we want to keep the PawSox in Pawtucket. I signed on to House Resolution H7290, which mirrors S2001 to keep the discussion ongoing in my House of Representatives.
However, I do not support the funding formula that Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello mercifully put out of its misery and declared dead.
Why not? It's applesauce!
Let's cut through the proponents' hurrahs, huzzahs, argle bargle, balderdash and gobbledy gook.
Here's one good reason: moral obligation bonds. Proponents claim the stadium construction project will cost $97 million. The PawSox will invest $12M up front. The City of Pawtucket, PawSox and State of RI bonds will fund the remainder. Rhode Island taxpayers are to be morally obligated on all the bonds that fund the project. And, that's $85M. In other words, Rhode Island taxpayers are on the hook for 87.6 percent of the $97M initial cost of the stadium construction project.
Don't believe it?
For months, proponents told us that if the PawSox default on bond debt, the International League will step in and pay off the PawSox bond. Balderdash!
International League President Randy Mobley, the new king of Flash Dance, recently refused to say clearly and unequivocally that if the PawSox default, the league will underwrite the bond and make the required payments. Instead Randy dances and says that if there's a default, the league will revoke the franchise, bring in new management, sell the franchise, etc. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Management will be punished and out of a job.
Who ultimately must pay back the PawSox debt default? Answer: RI taxpayers
And, while we're at it, who ultimately must pay back the bond holders if the City of Pawtucket defaults? Answer: RI taxpayers.
Don't believe it? Take a good, hard look at Senate Resolution S2001 page 6 lines 11 through 19, which tell us the governor shall include in the proposed state budget for each year the annual debt service due on all bonds. Once you've read these lines, mercifully disabuse yourself of the notion that the bonds are not moral obligation bonds. They most certainly are moral obligation bonds!
Here's another moral reason. In my district, House Dist. 60, there are a goodly number of constituents, who do not have the same discretionary income as the PawSox owners. And, that's an understatement.
When the 2017 budget cut RIPTA bus passes for the needy and disabled, the first thing I heard from my constituents was please, get us our RIPTA bus passes back. We can't afford the trip to the doctor or clinic. My colleagues in the House and I got to work on it early in 2017; we got this problem fixed in the 2017 General Assembly Session. Great! Now my constituents can once again afford to go to the doctor's office or clinic and get the medical attention they need so badly.
However, this year, the proposed budget says we're to reduce Medicaid coverage by compelling copays and deductibles to Medicaid.
Thisrep is not going back to his constituents in June, stand in front of them and tell them I voted to subsidize the billionaire PawSox owners, am most happy my constituents can now afford to get to their medical service provider, and, I'm very, very sad they can no longer afford their meds. Take that to the bank!
In closing, my position is simple and straightforward. The PawSox are first and foremost a "for profit business.” Like any other American business, let the PawSox pony up the dollars to build their stadium and take the business risks. Let the PawSox own it, maintain it, repair it, pay taxes on it, reap their profit or suffer their loss.
And, best of all, let the PawSox succeed or fail without putting a grab on our precious Rhode Island tax dollars in the process.
David A. Coughlin is representative of House Dist. 60.