A new business group to help improve our schools, Rhode Island’s economic outlook, funding for multilingual learners, and more highlight from a busy month for RIPEC.
RIPEC on Public Policy
- A coalition of Rhode Island business groups, supported by RIPEC as a founding member, announced an alliance to address the crisis in our schools. Rhode Island Businesses for Better Education released a set of principles and shared its initial focus on chronic absenteeism, career and college pathways, and achievement gaps.
- Boston Globe, “The business community’s latest effort to improve R.I. schools.”
- Providence Business News, “R.I. business groups form alliance to support education.”
- Two outstanding public employees were honored with the Gary S. Sasse and Robert M. Goodrich Public Service Awards at RIPEC’s 80th Annual Meeting on November 2nd: Dorothy Pascale, State Controller at the Rhode Island Department of Administration, and Joseph Nicholson, the recently retired City Manager of Newport.
- RIPEC’s Rhode IslandKey Performance Indicators Briefing for the second quarter of 2023, released in partnership with The Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University, showed mixed results across key metrics, even as Rhode Island’s 2.7 percent unemployment represented a 35-year low. RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase commented that the Briefing highlights “the growing divergence between the number of employed Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island-based jobs.”
- GoLocal Prov, “RIPEC Report Points to Mixed Economic Data, Despite RI’s 35 Year Record-Low Unemployment.”
- Providence Business News, “Report: R.I. economy shows mixed results in Q3 despite historically low unemployment.”
- Following a recent RIPEC policy brief on funding for Rhode Island’s K-12multilingual learners, Michael DiBiase told WJAR 10 that multilingual learners now make up one in eight students; “[so], if we don’t do better with respect to those students and their outcomes, we are not going to improve the overall system.” RIPEC Public Policy Analyst Jeffrey S. Hamill wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed that “the state has been slow to address these changing demographics … with adequate funding solutions.”
- Warwick Beacon, “Surge in multilingual learners impacts city.”
- Johnston Sunrise, “Johnston’s MLL population soars: Schools struggle to provide equitable education to multilingual learners.”
- Rhode Island moved up one spot in its overall ranking (42nd to 41st) and six spots in its property tax ranking (41st to 35th) on the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index due to the adoption of a $50,000 tangible property tax exemption. Speaking with the Providence Business News about RIPEC receiving the Governmental Research Association’s Outstanding Policy Achievement award for its work on the tax exemption, RIPEC Manager of Research Justine Oliva noted that “75% of businesses are projected to be fully exempt from taxation.”
- Michael DiBiase will serve on a panel newly formed by General Treasurer James Diossa to revisit Rhode Island’s 2011 pension reforms. DiBiase was also appointed to a nine-member special commission established by the Providence City Council to investigate Providence’s revenue streams and tax laws.
- HousingWorks RI released its annual fact book on the state of housing in Rhode Island. The report found that more than one-third of Rhode Islanders are rent, or mortgage stressed—spending more than 30 percent of their annual income on housing.
- Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System (RICAS) scores were released, showing that only 33.1 percent of 3rd-8th grade Rhode Island public school students are proficient in English language arts (ELA) and only 29.6 percent are proficient in math. ELA proficiency remains 5.4 percentage points below pre-pandemic levels.
What to Look for in November
- Rhode Island’s November Revenue Estimating Conference will release estimates for the current (FY 2024) and next fiscal year (FY 2025) later this month. Their estimates will shape Governor Dan McKee’s FY 2025 budget submission in January. the Commenting on the economic forecasting testimony heard last week by the Conference, Michael DiBiase noted that growth was “more constrained” than forecasted at the March Conference “but it’s not as challenging as it could be if we had a recession.”