House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello reacted coolly Monday to a proposal by state Representative Daniel Reilly (R-Portsmouth) that would create an inspector general, as a way of rooting out waste and mismanagement in Rhode Island's almost $9 billion annual budget.
"I commend Rep. Reilly for introducing a bill with the intention of reducing waste, fraud and abuse in state government," Mattiello said in a statement. "We will have a committee hearing and weigh the pros and cons of his bill. However, this proposal will create a new position and I do not believe we need to be adding to our government infrastructure. I also have concerns this office would conflict with the jurisdiction and authority of the Governor. I have great confidence that Governor Raimondo will do a great job in administering state government in the most efficient manner possible on behalf of the taxpayers.”
Reilly argues the cost of creating an inspector general would more than pay for itself while benefiting taxpayers -- the same argument used to no avail in recent years by former representative Larry Valencia (D-Richmond) on his own IG bill. Valencia says Rep Christopher Blazejewski (D-Providence) is backing a bill identical to Reilly's.
According to the Portmouth Republican, “The inspector general’s sole function will be to save the state money, to save your hard-earned tax dollars. The state adds cost every year, but rarely monitors the effectiveness and management of spending. The inspector general will work to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse within Rhode Island government.”
Under Reilly's bill, the governor, attorney general, and general treasurer jointly appoint the administrative head of the Office of Inspector General. As the lawmaker explains it, the inspector general would be able to conduct audits, administrative investigations, and initiate oversight reviews.
“This bill is all about transparency and better government.” Reilly said. “How many times have we seen a local news story on misappropriations of state funds and said to ourselves, ‘why isn’t anyone paying attention to my money?’ The inspector general will pay attention and will stop wasteful misappropriation of funds.”
However, without Mattiello's support, attempts to create an inspector general seem likely to remain dead on arrival on Smith Hill.