Giovanni Feroce delivered the kind of speech that would make Republican Party primary voters blush on Tuesday afternoon.
Standing in front of about 30 supporters at the 1149 Restaurant on the Warwick/East Greenwich line, Feroce called for the elimination of taxes, statewide free wifi service, and becoming a “right to work” state. “Right to Work” states enact laws that say workers cannot be forced to join a union.
“There are 28 other right to work states in America. Are we always going to be last in everything?” Feroce said.
Feroce would also eliminate the estate tax, which taxes inheritances. He would also eliminate inventory taxes. Listening to the speech, one got the sense that Rhode Islanders are either going to have very high sales taxes, or the budget is going to shrink dramatically.
Basically, Feroce, the former CEO of Alex And Ani, who helped take the company to unbelievable new heights, but also made some unwise investments in Benrus, would be the AFL-CIO’s worst nightmare. The message, however, should appeal to the Republican Primary electorate.
The Big Question
But will they look past some of his personal struggles–namely some of his personal financial issues that occurred in the wake of his failure at the helm of Benrus?
That’s the big question that hangs over Feroce’s campaign like a spectre.
“Don’t ever let someone tell you that I’m not qualified,” said Feroce, citing his experience in Military, government (he’s a former state legislator), and business.
Feroce delivered a policy-heavy speech that sounded, at times, heavily academic–he invoked historians who talked about George Washington–but did provide lots of red meat that conservative voters would love.
The state is currently wallowing in an “intellectual gulag” or a self-imposed socio-economic prison, he said. To combat that, Feroce bandied out 12 different policy proposals that would drastically shrink the size of the state’s government.
Feroce’s plans would, for the most part, embark Rhode Island on an experiment similar to what was done in Kansas under former Governor Sam Brownback.
A Radical Change for RI?
“In the majority of instances, the processes will be controversial, insofar as they radically undermine the status quo. And they demand changes, that those invested in maintaining the status quo, will attempt to demonize as reckless assaults on conventional wisdom,” Feroce said.
It took Feroce about 5 seconds to say that he would eliminate the personal income tax. He then received a loud applause.
But it was reminiscent of when Governor Donald Carcieri, in the latter portion of his second term, told a talk radio host that he “would love to find a way to eliminate the income tax”. All Hell broke loose. Questions of how he would implement that arose. What spending would he cut in order to accompany that drastic level of spending reduction. Carcieri backtracked.
Naturally, it’s different for a sitting Governor to say that than a candidate. But Feroce, as the campaign continues, will be forced to answer similar questions. He didn’t have that issue on Tuesday.
Right Wing Idealogue or Technocrat?
He also talked, at length, about the “blockchain”. Blockchain is an electronic method of digital record keeping that’s linked together through cryptography. It was originally created for bitcoin, but has since and will continue to be expanded to other areas of the economy.
Feroce said that he would create mechanisms that make it easier for companies to use the blockchain in Rhode Island. Those incentives, he said, would encourage technology companies to locate in Rhode Island.