As the economy fully reopens and budget season begins to draw to a close, RIPEC brings you a brief update on the major public policy issues impacting the Ocean State.
RIPEC on Public Policy
- RIPEC released “An Analysis of Charter Public Schools in Rhode Island,” a look at the key issues surrounding charter public schools in the state. The report outlines charters’ history and legal framework; school, enrollment, and demographic data; financial structures; and student outcomes. Among its findings were that about four in five charter public school students in the state are from one of Rhode Island’s four poorest communities, which are also among the lowest performing, but that charter public school students significantly outperformed students in traditional school districts on the most recent RICAS, a standardized state assessment. Following this analysis, RIPEC offers several recommendations for policymakers.
- WPRI, “RIPEC recommends expanding charters, opposes moratorium”
- Providence Journal, “Public policy group recommends that charter expansion continues but says local school districts need more aid”
- Providence Business News, “RIPEC report: State should support charter school expansion”
- Go Local Prov, “Expand Public Charter Schools, Says RI Public Expenditure Council in New Report”
- The Current Economic Indicator Briefing for the first quarter of 2021 showed that Rhode Island’s economy is on an upswing but trailing the New England region and the U.S. overall in terms of growth. Jointly published by the Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University and RIPEC, the Briefing projected that the Ocean State’s GDP grew by 3.5 percent (annualized rate) in Q1, compared to 5.2 percent growth in New England and 6.4 percent growth in the U.S.
- Boston Globe, “R.I.’s economy grew in first quarter, but not as much as other New England states”
- Providence Journal, “Report: RI economy recovering but trailing region, country”
- Providence Business News, “Report: R.I. GDP grows at slower rate than region, country”
- RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase joined members of the Rhode Island business community to urge the General Assembly to rethink legislative proposals to increase the state income tax on higher earners and tax forgivable federal Paycheck Protection Program loans above $150,000. “Why would we reverse the gains we have made in improving our tax climate for business at a time when we are struggling to recover our economy?,” DiBiase asked.
- In response to a plan to sell $704 million in pension obligation bonds to help fill a $1.2 billion unfunded pension liability in Providence, Michael DiBiase told the Public’s Radio that the plan would disincentivize needed pension reform and that Providence may be unable to absorb the loss if bond proceeds ultimately earned less than the interest owed on them.
- For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic upended state budgets, tax revenues have grown enough to erase pandemic losses in a majority of states, and total collections nationwide are poised to do the same, according to a recent report from The Pew Charitable Trusts.
- The Tax Foundation published “Location Matters 2021,” a comprehensive look at the tax costs for different types of businesses in each of the 50 states. Rhode Island is ranked 42nd on tax costs for mature companies and 43rd on tax costs for new companies.
What to Look for in June
- The General Assembly is expected to vote on the state budget for FY 2022 by the last day of FY 2021 on June 30. Due to better than anticipated revenues and support from the federal government, Rhode Island’s state budget picture has brightened considerably since the early months of the pandemic. RIPEC soon will issue a report on the proposed budget Governor McKee submitted in March and the ways in which the budget picture has evolved since.