FRIAS ON LT. GOVERNOR VACANCY
In an opinion column, entitled “Save Rhode Island taxpayers a million dollars” published this week in the Cranston Herald , Warwick Beacon , and Johnston Sunrise , R.I. Republican National Committeeman Steven Frias calls for the impending vacancy in the office of lieutenant governor be left vacant so as to save taxpayers a million dollars, and recommends that the office of lieutenant governor be eliminated in the future.
Here are excerpts:
Rhode Island politicians love few things more than patronage. … Rather than arguing about who should pick the lieutenant governor or who the next lieutenant governor should be, the office of lieutenant governor should be left vacant to save the taxpayers a million dollars during this fiscal crisis. In fact, the office of lieutenant governor should be eliminated.
Over the past century, the office of lieutenant governor was left vacant on numerous occasions. … Keeping the office of lieutenant governor vacant didn’t harm Rhode Island then and it won’t now.
The office of Rhode Island lieutenant governor is not only nonessential; it is relatively expensive compared to other states. … Rhode Island’s lieutenant governor does not preside over the senate, is not customarily assigned important duties by the governor and instead serves as chairman of a few advisory boards. Rhode Island pays too much for an office, which is responsible for so little.
The office of lieutenant governor is an office in search of a purpose. Over time, its purpose usually became serving the ambition of the politician who held the office. … Because of such ambitions, a part-time job eventually ended up having a million-dollar budget.
Small businesses are closing. The budget deficit is over $500 million. Appointing a new lieutenant governor and spending a million dollars on political patronage is not justifiable.
The most efficient use of taxpayer money would be to eliminate the office of lieutenant governor. Instead, the secretary of state would become the governor’s successor, which is the process followed in three other states. If the position is not eliminated, then the governor and lieutenant governor should be elected as a team with the expectation that the governor will assign duties to the lieutenant governor. Either one of these changes would require a constitutional amendment. If neither change is made, then the best thing to do is elect someone for lieutenant governor who will make the only promise a lieutenant governor actually has the power to fulfill: save the taxpayers a million dollars by not hiring staff and not paying oneself a full-time salary for what is really just a part-time job.