Of course the Providential Gardener supports the Open Space and Recreational bonds issue, even though our economy is in a bad way. It's not possible for me to oppose it! I hope you'll join me in voting YES on Question 2 next week.
On November 4, 2008, Rhode Islanders will vote on two statewide questions ~
#1 is Transportation funding and #2 is for Open Space and Recreational Development funding. The Providence Journal endorsed the first and opposed the second in an editorial on October 16. The reason Projo gave for supporting the $87 million transportation bonds issue was that it enables Rhode Island to get matching funds, and they felt that the additional $2.5 million open space issue was more than Rhode Island could afford given the current economic situation. Apparently the Projo editors didn't realize that if the $2.5 million for open space and recreational development bonds is not approved, Rhode Island would also lose matching federal and private funds.
The RI Secretary of State website gives background and information about the two bond issues. I'm mainly concerned with the second one (although there is more than $3.6 million for public transit busses in the transportation bond issue) Here's what #2 will do:
The $2.5 million will be spent between July 2009 and June 2011, and the value to the state, the "useful life" will be "in perpetuity," or as we mortals say, forever, longer than any of us will live to see.
The background on this bond issue is that during the spring 2008 legislative session, the governor originally proposed $5 million, and land trusts and other conservation groups lobbied hard for upping the bond issue to $15 million. For a while in June, it seemed that the open space bond issue was dead, but at the last moment, the legislature approved $2.5 million to put the question on the November ballot and to continue the conservation program rather than ending this effort all together. The importance of this bond issued was outlined on May 7, 2008, in a post on our sister website, What Grows On in Rhode Island News Blog.
The Providential Gardener supports the Open Space Bond this November 4, and joins many other Rhode Islanders in urging you to vote YES. Rhode Islanders have a long history of supporting land conservation bonds ~ more than 70% of us supported open space bonds in 2000 and 2004. The main argument against it this year is the economy and our desire to see that every Rhode Islander has enough to eat, a safe, warm home, and a job, but $2.5 milllion is an investment in our future with everlasting consequences. Remember, though, that it's hard to make money by farming. We love our farmers' markets, we're enthusiastically supporting local agriculture, and we love our beautiful state. We're already sacrificing the other $2.5 million to $12.5 million that we would have approved if we were in a thriving economy and if the legislature had not cut the governor's original proposal and resisted the pleas of conservation groups to increase the governor's proposal. This is the least we can do, to approve this $2.5 million, especially when the transportation bond issue is more than 35 times its size and is also needed for our badly deteriorating bridges and infrastructure ($80 mil), commuter rail ($3.57 mil), and busses ($3.67mil).
The bonds bring in many millions of matching funds and it's short-sighted not to pass them no matter what our current economic problems are.