To the Editor:
Rhode Islanders have benefited from the social conscience of the General Assembly through the years. It has proven time and again that it excels in addressing social issues, in caring for the many and diverse human service needs of the citizens, in helping its veterans and the homeless, elderly and disabled.
But there will be fewer means of public support for all these important government services if our economy cannot provide the revenue to pay for them all.
The legislature is working on the budget and pursuing initiatives to improve our economy. It needs to work harder and it needs a laser-like focus on fiscal prudence, creating jobs and easing the tax burden on our citizens. That is why I have deep concerns that legislation such as the legalization of marijuana may serve to divert the General Assembly’s, and the media’s, attention from the most pressing issue of this session – economic development.
I mean no ill will to the sponsors of the legislation. Our democratic process is about all ideas being heard. I offer no opinion at this time on the merits, or lack thereof, of legalization. My solitary desire is that, while other issues come and go, rise or fall, pass or die, the General Assembly re-intensifies its commitment and energy to the most pressing needs of the state today – retooling the economy, creating jobs and paving the way to a prosperous future. Those issues, unlike others, have an impact and bearing on the welfare of every citizen of the state.
James C. Sheehan
Senate – District 36
Narragansett, North Kingstown