To the Editor:
Political power in Rhode Island needs to be balanced to counter its near-dictatorial Speaker of the House – not the person, the position.
That's why "those who promote the line-item veto . . . want the governor to be more powerful and upset the balance of power" (the cheeky ending of Edgar Leduc's August 23 Providence Journal non-answer to "Was line-item veto panel on the level?").
Every RI legislative candidate thus ought to answer this question, publicly:
"If elected in 2018, will you vote in 2019 to place on RI's 2020 ballot a Constitutional Balance of Powers Amendment enabling any RI governor to veto any line item in any legislature’s proposed budget – why or why not?"
Any RI governor (like those in 44 other states) would not thereby need either to swallow whole or vomit whole any proposed legislative budget.
Any RI legislature would thereby need to reconsider any questionable budget expense – and this wording is essential – individually, and acknowledge publicly who is voting for or against it.
Our legislature’s seemingly inalienable right to stuff RI’s budget with last-minute “I know a guy” line items must be repealed. RI’s public good must, moreover, no longer be subject to the will of voters in only one of its 75 legislative districts, that of its Speaker of the House.
Even Nick Mattiello, the only candidate in my years of organizing/moderating local, regional and statewide candidate forums who publicly thanked his wife and children for all they’ve sacrificed to make possible his public service, even he, and especially he, ought no longer be subject to the threat that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Marie C. Hennedy, Ph.D.