As the legislative priorities come into focus, RIPEC brings you an update on public policy in the Ocean State.
RIPEC on Public Policy
- Senator Melissa Murray introduced legislation to exempt the first $100,000 of tangible personal property from taxation to help businesses, especially small businesses, statewide—a proposal developed with support from RIPEC and members of the business community. The exemption would eliminate tangible tax liability for an estimated 85 percent of all businesses. Calling the tax both a “financial burden… [and] an administrative headache,” Senate President Ruggerio said the proposal would make it easier to do business in Rhode Island.
- The Rhode Island Foundation Long-Term Education Planning Committee released its 2023 policy framework, developed by a subcommittee co-chaired by RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase and Frank Flynn, President of the RI Federation of Teacher and Healthcare Professionals. Recommendations include incentives for recruiting and retaining teachers, creating a professional development fund, adjusting the state’s funding formula, and amending the state constitution to make public education a fundamental right.
- A recent Providence Journal article on consolidation of city and town services cited a number of findings from RIPEC’s December 2022 report on municipal services, including that consolidation of services can achieve “economies of scale” for governments serving fewer than 40,000 residents. Interviewed for the article, Michael DiBiase pointed out that school districts that consolidate probably would need the same number of teachers, but perhaps not as many specialists and administrators, and that merged fire departments probably won’t have fewer firefighters but could save money by sharing equipment.
- Michael DiBiase spoke to the Rhode Island Current about a proposal by the governor of Massachusetts to lessen that state’s estate tax burden, and what that proposal could mean for Rhode Island, one of only 12 states in the nation to levy an estate tax. “You often see when people are ready to retire or sell their businesses, they choose to move,” he said. “We lose out economically, because we lose that spending and the economic activity those people would generate if they stayed here.”
- Rhode Island has a “critically low” shortage of single-family homes on the market according to the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, which recently released February home sale data. The data showed a year-over-year 29.4 percent drop in single-family home sales, a 43.5 percent drop in condo sales, and a 52.7 percent drop in multifamily home sales.
- In a new study, the Tax Foundation found that the U.S. system of taxes and transfers is highly progressive. When federal income transfer programs are considered, state and local systems move “from moderate regressivity to moderate progressivity,” the study’s authors write, with Americans in the lowest income quintile receiving $6.17 in income transfer program dollars for every tax dollar paid and the top quintile receiving $0.11 per tax dollar paid.
What to Look for in April
- Invitations to RIPEC’s K-12 Education Forum, Building Our Future: Improving Education in Rhode Island will hit inboxes this month. The forum will be held on Wednesday, May 17th at Johnson & Wales University, and will convene leaders across the state to exchange ideas and work towards solving some of the issues most central to education today. We look forward to seeing you there!
- The Rhode Island House of Representatives will continue to hold hearings on Speaker Joseph Shekarchi’s 14-bill package of housing legislation introduced in March. Addressing concerns that the package would erode local control over development, the Speaker said that the legislation seeks “to eliminate as many . . . barriers as possible while still leaving local control.”
- While the principals of Rhode Island’s biannual Revenue Estimating Conference won’t reach consensus on the updated revenue projections that will shape the FY 2024 budget as enacted until May, the economic and departmental testimony that informs those estimates will kick off later this month, on April 24th.