LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Free’ tuition plan is unfair and, of course, it’s not free

Only Gov. Gina Raimondo could think that taking $30 million of Rhode Island taxpayers’ money to pay for in-state college tuition is actually “free.”

It’s not. It is, however, an insult to every parent who worked his or her tail off to send children to college or took out loans to pay for college tuition. And it’s an insult to everyone who took out thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for college. Will these responsible people get a rebate?

Can Ms. Raimondo explain to people who haven’t gone to college, or have no intention of going, why their tax dollars have to pay for other people’s college tuition? I wish her good luck with that one.

The idea that the state will somehow benefit from “free” in-state tuition is ridiculous. Thousands of people graduate from in-state colleges annually. That number will most likely increase with “free” in-state tuition.

Thanks to the shambles that the Democrats have made of this state for the last 80 years or so, only a minority of those people will find in-state employment in their chosen profession. How is taxpayer-funded education for people to work in other states a good deal for us?

Call “free” in-state tuition what it is — a typical taxpayer-funded, vote-buying scheme by a failed governor.

Phil Gingerella Westerly

Savings overestimated for proposed Burrillville plant

Dana R. Barlow, president of the Moore Company in Westerly, is doing no good for businesses by repeating the false claim that the Clear River Energy Center will save ratepayers $200 million in its first four years of operation (“Steep energy prices batter R.I. companies,” Commentary, April 2).

In sworn testimony last summer before the Public Utilities Commission, Christopher Stix, an energy industry analyst, proved that the New England power market has priced the four-year savings of the CREC at no such figure at all. Mr. Stix testified that the first-year savings would be in a range between zero and $36 million. Further, the second year range would likely be the same, and projections beyond that were too speculative to predict.

So compelling was Mr. Stix’s math that Invenergy’s analyst, also under oath, made no attempt to rebut him. But, for the sake of argument, if we do take the first year’s mean figure of $18 million and multiply, the four-year projection falls $128 million short of Dana R. Barlow’s claim.

The dirty little secret of our high electricity prices is not a looming shortage of capacity, but transmission costs. New England has the highest transmission costs in the country. But so long as people continue to fish for red herring in the Clear River, will there be anything done about it?

William J. Eccleston North Providence

Free’ tuition would help fix Rhode Island’s K-12 schools

Kudos to The Providence Journal for supporting Gov. Gina Raimondo’s innovative plan to provide residents with two years of free tuition (“Taxpayer-funded tuition merits a look,” editorial, March 16). The editorial correctly pointed out the need to improve the state’s K-12 schools to make such a program work. Research from communities that have previously promised free college tuition indicates an improvement in K-12 academic performance, particularly in high school, as such programs inspire an expectation of college attendance by removing financial barriers.

Creating Rhode Island’s Promise Scholarship isn’t an alternative to improving the state’s primary and secondary schools, it’s a necessary component of any educational reform effort the state undertakes.

Morley Winograd Washington, D.C. The writer is president and CEO of The Campaign for Free College Tuition.

Free’ tuition plan should be limited to certain fields

There must be some restrictions should Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plan to provide two years of free tuition become a reality (“Raimondo argues for free tuition,” news, March 16). The qualifying fields of study must be restricted to marketable ones, such as engineering, information technology, science and mathematics, etc., so that graduates will have the knowledge and skills to be employed — hopefully in Rhode Island.

Should students choose liberal arts as their field of study, the free tuition program should not be available. I have nothing against liberal arts studies, but do not think it should be an option for any free tuition program.

Harry Harrison White Plains, N.Y.

Once we have ‘free’ tuition, the cost will only grow

As a taxpayer, I am not interested in paying more taxes or having the state’s debt increase to further Gov. Gina Raimondo’s political aspirations. Dealing with the unpopular car tax is the correct direction for our troubled state, because it would reduce the taxpayer burden, rather than add to it.

As I learned many years ago, when people get something for free, they do not care what it costs, how much the costs increase or who pays for it. And even if they aren’t really interested in it or don’t need it, they figure they might as well take it. Who cares about any associated waste or abuse?

Whatever the cost is estimated to be, we know it is going to be much greater, and be out of control. Like any benefit, once you start, it is almost impossible to stop (even long after Raimondo is gone).

All I ask is for a little common sense. It’s time for the taxpayers to stop paying for our politicians’ pandering for votes.

Rick Bell Greenville

Governor’s ‘free’ college plan confirms tolls unnecessary

Gov. Gina Raimondo proposes that we pay two years of college tuition for anyone attending a public college in the state, including illegal residents. While she expects the price tag to be $30 million a year when fully phased in (which many think is an underestimate), she claims it is “a drop” in a $9 billion budget.

Yet, inexplicably, she and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello couldn’t find $22 million in last year’s budget to fund the much needed repairs to our bridges — some of the most deficient in the country. And when the Republican Policy Group showed the governor where the money could be found in the budget, she, the speaker and most of the legislature ignored them and posited that truck-only tolling was the way to go. This defies logic.

It’s about priorities. Repairing bridges is a vital function of state government. “Free” college tuition is at best nice to have (and it certainly would not solve the state’s employee skills gap, as the governor claims). If there is money in the budget for an expensive nice-to-have item, then it is clear that there is money for a less expensive vital service such as bridge repairs.

By proposing this politically expedient giveaway, Governor Raimondo has herself confirmed that tolls were and are completely unnecessary as a revenue source to repair some of the worst bridges in the country.

Monique Chartier Cranston The writer is spokeswoman for StopTollsRI.com.

Free’ tuition represents more of the same from Democrats

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s “free” college tuition plan, which expects nothing in return from students, is just one example of how Democrats have managed to monopolize the political arena in Rhode Island. It’s called using taxpayer money to buy votes.

Joan E. Frattarelli Greenville