Scott MacKay's Commentary

Monday 6:45 AM, 8:45 AM, and 5:44 PM

With a B.A. in political science and history from the University of Vermont and a wealth of knowledge of local politics, it was a given that Scott MacKay would become a weekly commentator for RIPR on Ocean State politics.  He also sits on the RIPR Political Roundtable.

As a former political reporter for The Providence Journal, MacKay has spent more than thirty years documenting the ins and outs of politics in Rhode Island and New England. MacKay is married to Dr. Staci Fisher, an infectious diseases specialist.

Photo by Ian Donnis.

PROVIDENCE, RI – A year is a lifetime in politics these days, but there is little doubt that Cicilline's reelection has drawn the most interest so far. A flock of credible candidates are lining up to challenge the freshman Democrat and he is out meeting and greeting as if the vote was taking place next month rather than next year.


Protestors waving anti-car tax signs gathered outside Providence City Hall recently to criticize the tax increases proposed by Mayor Angel Taveras and the city council. And more than 200 people showed up at last week's Warwick City Council meeting to fire away at Mayor Scott Avedisian's plan to increase car taxes to pay for city services.

PROVIDENCE, RI – One of the storm clouds gathering over Rhode Island's economic future is our poorly educated work force. Our state ranks near the bottom of New England in the number of college educated workers that employers need for the jobs of a new century.

PROVIDENCE, RI – The cliche is that politics makes strange bedfellows. WRNI political analyst Scott MacKay brings us the odd couple that is working together to fix the Providence financial mess.

Shortly after Angel Taveras was elected Providence mayor, City Council President Mike Solomon brought Taveras some bad news; the city's finances were in shambles, worse than they had been depicted by former Mayor David Cicilline.

At first Taveras was skeptical; things couldn't be that dire, he thought.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island's General Assembly has enacted legislation requiring all voters to get photo identification. WRNI political analyst Scott MacKay wonders why our recession-racked state is spending taxpayer dollars on this one.

PROVIDENCE, RI – On Independence Day, Rhode Islanders can celebrate our state's embrace of a first step towards full marriage equality for our gay citizens.

After a tortuous debate, the Rhode Island General Assembly has finally approved legislation that grants our gay citizens the right to civil unions.

PROVIDENCE, RI – It's been 40 years since President Richard Nixon declared a national war on drugs. WRNI political analyst Scott MacKay wonders if the marijuana skirmish in this battle is still worth fighting in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island is once again out of synch with our New England neighbors on an important social policy: the way our criminal laws treat users of small amounts of marijuana.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island's looming pension insolvency threatens the state's future. WRNI political analyst Scott MacKay says the pension issue begs an even bigger question: Can state government solve the really big problems?

It has been 20 years since Rhode Island's political elite faced a situation as daunting as the current need to rework the public employee state pension systems.

PROVIDENCE, RI – One of Rhode Island's greatest assets is the respect we have for our storied past. WRNI political analyst Scott MacKay says the General Assembly can nurture our state's historic architecture and generate jobs.

The talk at the State House these days is gloomy. State government is broke, public pension liabilities threaten our economic future and unemployment is still hovers in double digits.


Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, a watery sliver of southeastern New England hardly big enough to qualify as a county in most of America.

But when it comes to government and quasi-government agencies our state is the biggest little state of profusion.

PROVIDENCE, RI – In this time of recession and state and municipal budget red ink, one would think the politicians would be looking at every dollar of spending. WRNI's Scott MacKay suggests a painless way to save taxpayers a $1 million a year.

House Speaker Gordon Fox said it best three weeks ago when he opposed Governor Chafee's plan for extending sales taxes to some items that are now tax-free.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Listen to the latest commentary from Scott MacKay. This week, he looks at the French-Canadian heritage of Woonsocket.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Rhode Island is a tiny speck of a state, not big enough to be a county in most of America. We have 39 cities and towns. And about 150 public employee pension systems. Yes you heard that right. We say about, because state general treasurer Gina Raimondo, says there are so many of these pension systems in our state that she isn't sure of the precise number.

Providence, RI – This week marks one year since the devastating March floods of 2010. WRNI looks back at last spring's floods in a week-long series of reports. Scott MacKay kicks off our coverage with this essay.

It is fashionable in some political circles to blame the federal government for all of our nation's ills. But there are times when there is nothing like a strong national government.