Bills to raise taxes on well to do Rhode Islanders face dim prospects
The Twitter hashtag has been created for today’s House Finance Committee hearing on bills that would raise the state income tax for well off Rhode Islanders. The Rhode Islanders for Tax Equity coalition this week sent out scads of mailers in preparation for the meeting, with this message:
In 2006, when the General Assembly gave massive tax breaks to RI’s wealthiest citizens, THEY SAID IT WOULD CREATE JOBS. THEY WERE WRONG.
(Could the worst economic downtown since the Depression possibly have had something to do with that? But we digress.) Labor and progressive groups will make a big push for the “tax fairness” argument. But the opposition of House Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed indicates bleak prospects for the legislation.
Kate Brock of the liberal advocacy group Ocean State Action says Rhode Island’s tax structure is overly balanced on low- and moderate-income taxpayers. “If Warren Buffett and his secretary both go to buy a toaster,” she says by way of example, “and they both pay that 7 percent sales tax, it has a disproportionate impact on the secretary. That’s money that she can’t spend on groceries or rent or in our local small businesses.”
Brock believes the tax-hike bill introduced by Representative Maria Cimini and Senator Josh Miller would pass on the House floor. “The issue,” she adds, “is getting it there.”
Representative Dan Reilly (R-Portsmouth), a member of House Finance, believes the bills to increases taxes on the well to do are DOA and won’t make it out of committee.
And for all the right reasons. I agree with the Senate president and the speaker in pretty much declaring that any increases in taxes, particularly outside of any comprehensive reform, and just stand alone reforms, are dead on arrival; mostly because the speakers wants to see the reform we put into place two years ago have the chance to take affect.
Votes on the legislation are not expected today.
[Photo: Ocean State Action]