Our General Assembly just doesn’t seem able to restrain itself. It continues to refuse to place a line-item veto provision before the voters, though it is overwhelmingly supported by Rhode Islanders. It continues to use our tax dollars to unconstitutionally “fund” its “charitable” payments to favored constituents, in an attempt to bribe them to vote for favored politicians. And now it is seeking to pass something that should be titled “The Full Employment Act for Politically Connected Lawyers.”

Decades ago, Rhode Island adopted the Missouri Plan for the selection of judges to try to decrease the political patronage aspects of the process. The Democrat-controlled General Assembly can’t abide this, however. Now it intends to open the floodgates to ensure that no politically connected Rhode Island lawyer will have to market himself or herself, work long hours or engage in any non-remunerative work. The General Assembly will do this by creating an unlimited number of $150,000-per-year magistrate positions. The only requirements are that the prospective magistrate be a Rhode Island lawyer — and “know a guy” in the General Assembly.

The Department of Children, Youth and Families is seriously underfunded, our infrastructure is collapsing, there’s a huge backlog of needed repairs to our public schools, but the General Assembly believes it is important to provide taxpayer-funded magistrate positions for politically connected lawyers.

Perhaps Cotton Mather was right. Given the degree of corruption in the General Assembly, we are the “Sewer of New England.”

David P. Whitman