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