Chamber stands with Governor Raimondo’s veto of unbalanced business bill
On our continued quest to advocate for the business community and improve the overall economy in our state and municipalities, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce urged the governor to veto a bill that could have had a detrimental effect on all the great progress our state has made. Representing all types of businesses, we are particularly concerned about major legislative initiatives that could change the landscape of business in our state, and adversely impact our local communities.
The Newport County Chamber of Commerce stands with Gov. Gina Raimondo on her recent veto of the proposed legislation for Continuance of Contractual Provisions. The bill would have required existing contract language in the collective bargaining agreements with certified school teachers and municipal employees to remain enforceable until a new bargaining agreement would have been reached.
While on the surface the bill looks like it could help the labor force, it would actually have the opposite effect by limiting opportunities for our communities, and therefore the local economy. When business suffers, the workers suffer.
As we expressed in a letter to the Governor urging her to veto this bill, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce were very concerned that the requirement to keep all conditions of the current contract in place would have tipped the balance of power to one side - labor - at the expense of the public. With personnel costs taking up the bulk of municipal budgets, the ability to modify a municipality’s cost structure would be severely limited. A substantial amount of municipal budgets would be held up by contract continuance without any modifications and without consideration of the fiscal needs or conditions of the community.
Importantly, contractual provisions, such as contract continuance, are and should remain negotiable in the collective bargaining process.
Any financial strain on municipalities could result in an increase in property tax rates on both businesses and residents. Municipalities do not have diverse revenue streams to support government administration. If this legislation had become law, it would further restrict the ability of the management to control labor costs and avoid tax increases.
Additionally, increasing the cost of pension obligations hinders the ability to control spending on services and administrative costs. We thank the Governor for her efforts to both champion pension reform successfully and veto this legislation to keep those efforts intact.