Amid a leadership shakeup on Smith Hill and a pandemic that continues to curtail economic activity, RIPEC brings you a brief update on the major public policy issues impacting the Ocean State.
RIPEC on Public Policy
- The Rhode Island Current Economic Indicator Briefing for the fourth quarter of 2020, published jointly by the Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University and RIPEC, analyzed mixed economic data for Q4 that indicate both that Rhode Island is in the midst of a protracted economic downturn and that systemic weaknesses in the state’s economy have persisted into the pandemic.
- Providence Journal, Report: RI economy fell further behind New England, US at the end of 2020
- Providence Business News, Report: R.I. GDP declines at 2% annual rate in Q4
- GoLocal Prov, Rhode Island Falls Behind Nation in Economic Recovery, According to New Report
- Weighing in on RhodeWorks’ five-year anniversary as part of a WPRI report on truck tolls, RIPEC President and CEO Michael DiBiase noted that, unlike most other states, Rhode Island has no general revenue appropriation for transportation, and has struggled to find a reliable funding source for transportation “for a very long time.” While truck tolling has added revenues for roads and bridges, the “program remains under the long shadow of the pending legal challenge” from the trucking industry, DiBiase said.
- The Tax Foundation recently ranked states by rates of inbound and outbound migration for 2020. While the data are relatively positive for the Ocean State—it ranks 15th for inbound migration—the report notes that the states with the worst business tax climates generally had the most out-migration, whereas states with the best business tax climates saw gains.
What to Look for in February
- Governor Raimondo’s confirmation as U.S. Commerce Secretary has been held up but remains a sure bet, so Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee’s transition team will continue to prepare for his imminent administration. Choosing a new lieutenant governor from a lengthy list of applicants is among the first of his outstanding tasks.
- The special election for voter approval of $400 million in bonded debt for items including higher education facilities, affordable housing, and parks and beaches is not until March 2, but early in-person and mail-in voting began this week and will continue through the month.
- Very likely to soon pass Congress, the next federal COVID relief bill—which would reportedly provide $1.7 billion in funding for Rhode Island—would dramatically improve the state’s budget outlook.
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