With the start of a new year and the return of the General Assembly to Smith Hill, RIPEC brings you an update on key public policy issues in the Ocean State.
RIPEC on Public Policy
- RIPEC’s latest policy brief analyzes the Tax Foundation’s annual Business Tax Climate Index, which ranks the business tax climates of all 50 states. The 2022 Index ranks Rhode Island 40th, down from 38th in 2021. RIPEC’s analysis describes the policies contributing to the Ocean State’s low ranking and offers recommendations for improving the tax climate and making the more state competitive with respect to its regional neighbors.
- GoLocalProv, “RI Drops in Business Ranking — Now Ranked 40th”
- In response to the news that unemployment insurance (UI) tax rates will stay flat in 2022 after being increased in 2021, RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase told the Providence Business Journal that while this may provide welcome short-term relief for businesses, “in the long run, business owners will still have to pay to replenish the fund,” since they are solely responsible for this tax. DiBiase supported the use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to help restore the UI trust fund to pre-pandemic levels.
- The Rhode Island General Assembly returned to the State House this week to begin the 2022 legislative session and voted unanimously to approve $119 million in spending from the state’s allocation of $1.1 billion in flexible (ARPA) funds. The funds will go to immediate needs in health and human services, support for small businesses and affected industries, and affordable housing development. The Rhode Island Foundation’s Make It Happen: Investing in Rhode Island’s Future initiative, supported by RIPEC, recommended $50 million in ARPA spending for immediate needs, including for child care and supportive housing.
- Even as the U.S. reports a record-high number of COVID-19 cases to start the new year, there is broad consensus from policymakers and officials, including U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, about the importance of keeping schools open for in-person instruction. Locally, while nearly all K-12 school districts have resumed in-person instruction following the holidays, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island announced that students will not return to classrooms until at least February.
- According to an analysis of relocation trends, Rhode Island ranked 10th in the U.S. in percentage of inbound movers in 2021, with 59.1 percent inbound compared to 40.1 percent outbound. Inbound movers cited family and jobs as top reasons for moving to the state.
What to Look for in January
- Governor Daniel J. McKee will present to lawmakers his budget proposal for fiscal year 2023, which begins on July 1. The governor’s budget is expected to include his proposal for the roughly $1 billion in remaining federal ARPA funding.
- RIPEC will publish the next installment of its series on municipal finance in Rhode Island, an analysis of property tax across the Ocean State. Michael DiBiase and RIPEC Research Manager Justine Oliva will present findings from the report at the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns’ Annual Convention on January 27th.