Rhode Island legislators aim to improve state's economy
By: George Sousouris
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island: With the second highest unemployment rate in the country and a tax and regulatory climate that gives the state a reputation for being unfriendly to business, legislators in Rhode Island have a tough road ahead of them in 2013 as they try to improve the state's economy. With a stubbornly high rate of joblessness of 10.4% and a high corporate tax rate of 9%, legislators like Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed (D), Rep. Helio Melo (D), and House Minority Leader Brian Newberry (R) have all listed economic recovery as the top legislative priority.
Rhode Island was one of only two states in the U.S. to lose population between July of 2011 and July of 2012 according to federal government statistics, underscoring the general malaise surrounding the people of this small coastal state. On the issue of a high corporate tax rate, Republican Sen. David Bates said, "One of the problems we've had is that we have a perception problem in Rhode Island as far as business is concerned. And the little things like the minimum corporate tax are one those things that give us a bad perception."
Rep. Newberry goes further, and claims that the state needs to eliminate its 7% sales tax to attract new business, but a perpetual problem for the cash strapped state is that both the sales tax and corporate tax bring in hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and any such cuts would need to be offset elsewhere.