Today, the Sky is Blue. And the Rhode Island Poverty Institute Wants to Raise Taxes

Surprise! Kay Brewster, executive director of the Rhode Island Poverty Institute, calls for higher taxes in today’s Projo

State revenues — taxes, fees and other income — are the collective investments we make to create a quality of life in Rhode Island that we all enjoy and expect. These investments are essential to keeping our shorelines and beaches clean, protecting our communities with police and emergency workers, educating our current and future workforce, and keeping our neighbors from going hungry or homeless.
For years, Rhode Island has struggled with a revenue system that is not adequate to meet the demands of a modern state. It is time to shift focus from cutting services to enhancing Rhode Island’s revenue system, so that we have the funds needed to maintain the public structures we all rely upon.
Nowhere in the op-ed does Ms. Brewster mention that Rhode Island already has the fourth highest state/local tax burden in the nation. In fact, making the claim that it’s “time to shift focus…to enhancing Rhode Island’s revenue system” requires a large dose of historical amnesia. Government in Rhode Island has been “enhancing” its revenues for over a decade. In 1995, Rhode Island had the 12th highest state/local tax-burden. By 1998, Rhode Island had moved up to 8th and, by 2000, to 5th. Since 2005, Rhode Island has had the 4th highest state/local tax-burden in the nation.
Isn’t this steady growth in tax revenues relevant to an honest discussion on tax policy? Or do our state’s poverty advocates believe that given infinite resources, government will do infinite good, and therefore tax increases are always justified?

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Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Ronaldus Magnus put it best when he said “There they go again.”

Will
Will
13 years ago

As Ronaldus Magnus also said, “Republicans think everyday is the Fourth of July; Democrats think everyday is April 15th”! I guess our favorite poverty pimp doesn’t think we’re getting hosed enough yet. I’d tell her where to go, but in the interest of civil discourse, shall refrain from doing so. Of course, if anyone else wants to, be my guest!

Paco
Paco
13 years ago

You have to admire Kay’s prioritizing of the reasons for increasing our already very high taxes:
>> These investments are essential to keeping our shorelines and beaches clean, protecting our communities with police and emergency workers, educating our current and future workforce, and keeping our neighbors from going hungry or homeless.
They are in nearly the exact opposite order of the costs associated with these programs/services. And, of course, she lists poverty last. At least she’s smart enough to realize that listing them, more honestly, in the order of their costs would have been much less attractive to the average Rhode Islander.

Michael
13 years ago

I make an honest living as a firefighter in Providence. It is hard enough justifying my pay and benefits to an overtaxed and rightfully fed up populace without “help” from the Kay Brewsters of the world. Somehow, unions and the welfare state have been interwoven. Somebody is benefiting from this unholy alliance and it definately isn’t me.

Rhody
Rhody
13 years ago

I don’t mind the rich getting their tax cut, as long as the rest of us get one, too. But I think that situation is much more the fault of Carcieri, Murphy and Montalbano than of Kay Brewster.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

“Somehow, unions and the welfare state have been interwoven.”
Two giant sucking holes that take money from one taxpayer and give it to another without proper justification?
Two sets of hands constantly in my pants trying to get more cash out of my wallet?
Two lobbying groups who OWN the General Assembly?
Two groups that cost more than they’re worth yet insist on more without improving their own quality?
How’m I doin’?

Michael
13 years ago

Greg, I thought we already had this argument. Let’s not get personal. I have no idea what you do for a living and judging from your comments you really don’t know what I do. Nobody GIVES me anything.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

I was a volunteer firefighter for years. My father was a chief. I know EXACTLY what you do. And I did it for free.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

And I LOVE how badmouthing the blood-sucking unions is taken personally by you. That’s a fantastic way to cry foul in a political discussion. “Oh, you can’t talk bad about ME. But let’s bash the social services together.”

Will
Will
13 years ago

Rhody,
You’re serious about this?
“I don’t mind the rich getting their tax cut, as long as the rest of us get one, too.”
Gov. Carcieri is trying to reduce taxes — and I know he’d like it to be across the board. However, it’s awfully difficult to cut taxes for everyone when NO ONE in state government wants to reduce ANY spending!
As for the nebulous “rich” … hate to break it to you, but most of them have already left! The whole idea behind the income tax rate simplications and reductions are to try to lure them back into paying ANY income tax in Rhode Island, instead of paying far less or none elsewhere. If properly implemented, it will actually boost revenue to the RI treasury.

Michael
13 years ago

“I was a volunteer firefighter for years. My father was a chief. I know EXACTLY what you do. And I did it for free.”
You do not have a clue what I do.
“Oh, you can’t talk bad about ME. But let’s bash the social services together.”
Is the rest of humanity so offensive to you that their opinions can be dismissed because of their occupation or affiliation? Are you equally as tolerant of women and minorities? Good lord, Greg, get a grip. Believe it or not, we are on the same side here.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

If we’re on the same side why are you always picking fights?

Michael
13 years ago

Truce?

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Truce.

John
John
13 years ago

Let’s not overlook Brewster’s sly and misleading mischaracterization of government consumption and transfer payments as “investments.” For example, when government pays an employee to pick up trash “to keep our shorelines and beaches clean” it is consuming a service not making an investment. And when it issues a check to a welfare recipient it is making a transfer payment — that is, taking resources from one taxpayer and tranferring them to another taxpayer to spend as the latter sees fit.
The even bigger howler is this sentence: “State revenues — taxes, fees and other income — are the collective investments we make…”. Kate (what’s up with the Kay? Is she going through a life change or something?), revenues are not investments — they are revenues. Taxes are not investments — they are taxes. Investments are cash outflows that produce benefits that stretch across multiple time periods. Taxes are a source of cash — that’s why the accountants call them “tax revenues.”
Even by the Poverty Institute’s usually low standards, this article is particularly muddled in its thinking.
What I’m really waiting to see, however, is how many of the resident economic geniuses in the RI House and Senate will cite Kate’s piece as gospel during the upcoming budget armageddon debate…

Rhody
Rhody
13 years ago

Will, I’m willing to be enlisted in the war against the so-called poverty pimps, provided I get my taxes cut, too. Until that happens, though, I’m not joining this necktie party.
Pardonez-moi if I sound selfish, but the message I get reading this thread is that selfishness is OK.

Will
Will
13 years ago

Don’t be surprised by Kay’s doublespeak. None of the words chosen were an accident — I’m not even convinced that they are her words. She doesn’t strike me as a particularly bright individual, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she used a ghost writer, or if an ad hoc committee cobbled all that stupidity together. They’re professional poverty pimps of the type that test their material with focus groups and the like, to find out which words will “sell” better to the public — because, basically, they assume we’re dumb as bricks. Unfornately, too many are. As for Rhody, I’m not for selfishness, but I am for individual freedom, as well as self-reliance, to the maximum extent possible. One thing that freedom means that if you have money — and everyone has at least some — then human nature, as well as simple economics dictate that you’ll want to keep as much of your money as possible. The problem here is that we expect productive people to give and give, without getting anything in return but scorn, and increasingly larger tax bills. Without a meaningful “rich” or upper middle class in this state, eventually, it will die under it’s own weight. You can’t “soak the rich” when they’re no longer in the pool. The difference between “the rich” (again, a loosely defined term) and the rest of us, is that they can afford to either physically move — or as happens a lot in Rhode Island, follow their accountants advice and move their assets elsewhere — where they’re not treated like lepers. People are voting with their feet. It’s just stunning how many rich folks have left this state. With the exception of Louisiana, Rhode Island is the state with the greatest percentage of people who have left. If you… Read more »

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Posted by Will at May 31, 2007 1:20 AM
As for “middle class” folks, a more realistic alternative to getting second home in Florida might simply be to cross the border into Massachusetts — while not spectacular by any means, the overall tax burden can be significantly less, especially for property owners
XX
Good God. This is about the 4th time in a month I have seen Massachusetts touted as better here. They have the 7th highest property taxes-we have the 5th. http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/251.html Woo-Hoo! Break out the noisemakers. They have had Republican governors moderating things for 20 years. Imagine, just imagine, what the taxes are going to be after 8 years of a Cadillac Deval/all Democrat legislature government? Not 3 months into his reign Cadillac already started pimping for MUNICIPAL SALES TAXES. As the song says “We’ve Only Just Begun”.
If you want to talk about New Hampshire or some Mountain states being better governed-fine. But Massachusetts is just debating the frying pan and the fire.

Michael
13 years ago

“Pardonez-moi if I sound selfish, but the message I get reading this thread is that selfishness is OK.”
After a few readings of Atlas Shrugged and further study of Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand, I beleive selfishness in it’s purest form is just what this society needs right now. Greed and avarice are not the same thing.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>”Pardonez-moi if I sound selfish, but the message I get reading this thread is that selfishness is OK.”
Selfishness or FATIGUE?
For over FORTY years we’ve been funding the “War on Poverty.”
If the “Poverty Institute” and their ilk, and their “programs” even moderately effective, then would after four decades and trillions of dollars shouldn’t their budget demands be going down as more and more of their “clients” are “lifted out of poverty?”
The question no one at the General Assembly has the ba**s (or perhaps native intelligence) to ask Ms. Brewster et. als. is:
“Why do you keep coming back here year after year, decade after decade, when clearly your ever increasing budget requests prima facie demonstrate that at best you’re ineffective, and more likely actually making the problem worse? …
… GET OUTTA HERE and don’t darken this Chamber again!”

Rhody
Rhody
13 years ago

Thank you, Michael, for calling a spade a spade.
The problem is, the people who get the tax cut for the rich here get awfully snappy if anybody below them on the economic ladder asks for one, too. That’s why they leave the state. As for the “poverty pimps,” they’re not unique to Rhode Island.

SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

“As for the “poverty pimps,” they’re not unique to Rhode Island.”
No, but does the RI Gen Assembly have to pander to them quite so thoroughly?
And how does anyone defend social programs that encourage irresponsible behavior?

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

For those Massachusetts-files:in addition to proposing MUNICIPAL sales taxes Cadillac Deval is now proposing a billion dollars a year “investment” in education. Even the Globe article says the plan “funding proposals as the state struggles financially”. Want to hazard a guess what the tax rate there is gonna be after 8 years of “investments” by Cadillac and the all-Democrat all the time legislature?
Still want to move to Swansea? LOL.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/06/01/patrick_seeks_free_two_year_state_colleges/?page=full

Andrew
13 years ago

Mike,
The difference between Massachusetts and Rhode Island is that educational results in MA are actually good.
This is not just a debate about high taxes (which is the point that Rhody also seems to be continually missing). This is about paying high taxes and receiving poor-to-mediocre public services in return at best. Our schools lag the rest of New England, and our poverty programs appear to breed poverty. So what are we spending the money on?
Here’s what the people who want to increase Rhode Island’s fourth-highest tax burden in the nation need to do if they want to make a successful case for higher taxes: deliver Rhode Islanders some public services that are top-5 in the nation. Then we can talk about whether further increases are necessary to improve things further.

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

Posted by Andrew at June 1, 2007 9:26 AM
So what are we spending the money on?
That’s obvious. 92% of the state budget goes to payroll and welfare (by one name or another.)
As a PS look at the test scores for Mass. URBAN POOR areas like Boston, New Bedford, Chicopee, Revere, Somerville, etc. Your infatuation with the Bay State may lessen.
BTW I incorectly reported that Cadillac Deval’s new welfare education entitlement “investment” will cost a billion a year. As a reading of the article shows, the exact language is “at least a billion”. Which means two billion in leftist speak.

SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

So, Mike, where has Governor Patrick proposed to cut $1,000,000,000 – $2,000,000,000 from the rest of the budget to pay for his new spending initiative?

Mike
Mike
13 years ago

So, Mike, where has Governor Patrick proposed to cut $1,000,000,000 – $2,000,000,000 from the rest of the budget to pay for his new spending initiative?
Posted by SusanD at June 2, 2007 2:44 PM
XXX
LOL.
Here is the direct quote from the article:
“But Patrick’s ambitious plan includes neither price tags nor funding proposals as the state struggles financially. Instead, it calls for a commission that would be charged with transforming the plan into reality.”
BTW anybody want to hazard a guess whether illegal aliens will be included in Cadillac Deval’s “free college” entitlement?

SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

A commission?! Interesting. We’ve had those in Rhode Island, too.
In any event, Governor Patrick gave up the salary of his wife’s Chief of Staff, the $11,000 drapes and part of the Cadillac, so he can advise the commission that he’s done his share.

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