Tangible property tax exemption legislation, economic news, and a new housing report highlight this month’s public policy agenda in the Ocean State.
RIPEC on Public Policy
- Expressing support for tangible personal property exemption bills moving through the Rhode Island House and Senate, RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase told the Rhode Island Current that the tangible tax is “onerous” and “discourages business investment.” Speaking with the Providence Business News about the proposed exemptions, DiBiase added that a tangible exemption would help the state become more competitive. Noting that the state ranks 42nd in terms of business tax competitiveness, DiBiase said that the “property tax is the most burdensome of the taxes businesses face in Rhode Island.”
- The Rhode Island Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Briefing for the first quarter of 2023 shows that Rhode Island’s economy improved across most key economic measures in Q1, but the rate of economic expansion has slowed. The Briefing, completed by The Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University and RIPEC, found that Rhode Island-based jobs increased 0.5 percent, while the number of employed Rhode Islanders was essentially unchanged (increasing 0.1 percent) over Q4 2022. Net sales tax receipts, an indicator of demand in the economy, grew 0.2 percent (seasonally adjusted) over the last quarter of 2022.
- Providence Business News, “RIPEC, Bryant report: R.I. economy slowed in Q1“
- GoLocal Prov, “RIPEC Report: RI Shows Strong Employment in Q1, but Economic Expansion Has Slowed“
- What’s Up Newp, “Rhode Island shows strong employment in Q1, but economic expansion has slowed“
- Ian Donnis’ weekly TGIF column cited Michael DiBiase’s observation that Rhode Island’s March job numbers indicate that Rhode Island’s economy is stalling. “The labor force is becoming a more significant issue—down by 6,800 since June 2022 . . . a lot of Rhode Islanders are on the sidelines,” he cautioned.
- Rhode Island may have to make “hard choices around tax relief and spending” considering the relatively sluggish economic growth detailed by economic firm S&P Global at the May Revenue Estimating Conference, Michael DiBiase told the Rhode Island Current. “We’re certainly seeing much less growth in revenues than we are spending,” he said.
- Rhode Island ranks last in the nation for annual housing production per capita, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group, supported by the Rhode Island Foundation. The report highlights Rhode Island’s underutilization of federal funding, the excessive red tape that stalls production, and the need for at least 24,000 units to update Rhode Island’s particularly old housing stock. Among New England states, the Ocean State has the “highest percentage of housing [units] built before 1940,” the report found.
- Governor McKee’s newly released Learn365RI initiative will provide municipalities that opt-in a cut of $4 million in federal pandemic emergency funding to support year-round, before and after school programs. The goal of the plan is to add one million hours of learning for students, and for Rhode Island to match Massachusetts in student outcomes by 2030.
- The Wall Street Journal reported that weaker than expected tax collections have the U.S. bumping up against the federal debt limit. The Treasury’s General Account—essentially the Treasury’s checking account—is at one of its lowest levels since 2021, and “the Treasury is running out of money faster than anticipated, bringing the debt ceiling crisis to a head sooner in June,” according to Yardeni Research analysts.
What to Look for in May
- RIPEC’s half-day K-12 Education Forum will be held on May 17th at Johnson & Wales University’s Harbor View Building in Cranston. The Forum will feature three moderated panels on education funding, teacher workforce and professional development, and innovation and choice, as well as a keynote address from Susan F. Lusi, Ph.D., President and CEO of Mass Insight Education & Research. You can register for the event here and see the event schedule and panelists here.
- The May Revenue Estimating Conference will wrap up next Wednesday, May 10th, at which state budget officers will determine updated estimates of state revenues that lawmakers will use to craft a budget for fiscal year 2024.