Re: Duie Pyle, Gomer Pyle and the Speaker of the House

Ian Donnis of the Providence Phoenix has kindly e-mailed me the link on his blog to his conversation with Speaker William Murphy regarding the A. Duie Pyle tax legislation. “Conversation”, which connotes a certain back and forth, is perhaps too strong a word, which Ian indicates up front.

House Speaker William J. Murphy just returned the call I placed earlier today to his spokesman, Larry Berman. Murphy declined to answer questions about the issues surrounding the tax break not received by Duie Pyle, but he did share these words, seemingly reading from a statement and making some contemporaneous changes

In his statement to Ian, Speaker Murphy does not get into what he knew, when he knew it or even the minor matter that he has been the subject of Grand Jury testimony.

The project status tax break for Duie Pyle was a back-burner issue that has turned into a political football. It’s time to set the record straight.
The Duie Pyle project status proposal was never in Governor Carcieri’s budget that he sent to the House of Representatives. The House Finance Committee held a public hearing on May 23, 2007, concerning EDC’s request for project status for Duie Pyle. No one from the governor’s office showed up to testify in favor of the proposal for project status. No one from the Town of Johnston came to testify in favor of the Duie Pyle proposal. No one from Duie Pyle nor their representative testified in favor of their proposal for project status.
When the House Finance Committee approved its budget on June 8, the Duie Pyle proposal was not in the budget. As per House rules, the budget remained on the desk for seven days. And at no point prior to or on June 15, 2007, when the budget came before the full House of Representatives, did any member of the House of Representatives move to amend the budget by offering any amendment on the Duie Pyle project status proposal.
Yesterday, October 29, 2007, was the first time that I heard from Governor Carcieri concerning Duie Pyle. The company has held a groundbreaking and begun operations in the state of Rhode Island without receiving a tax break. In a very difficult year, the House Finance Committee’s decision has saved $330,000 for the taxpayers of this state.
I have not met anyone from the Duie Pyle corporation. I have heard some very positive things about the company. And I am glad that they are in Rhode Island. The issue at hand is similar to the Brown & Sharpe/Hexagon proposal in 2005, when the General Assembly held firm and refused to go along with the governor’s proposal to build a new building for the company at taxpayer expense.
The Assembly in 2005 was able to develop legislation to keep Brown & Sharp/Hexagon here, and to protect taxpayers of Rhode Island. In my opinion, the Duie Pyle issue has become this year’s political football and it did not seem to be a concern of the above-mentioned parties while the process was proceeding.

Let’s hear that again. “In a very difficult year, the House Finance Committee’s decision has saved $330,000 for the taxpayers of this state.”
First of all, what are we to make of the two similar tax breaks that did pass the General Assembly? In that light, were they ill-advised?
Secondly, let’s dispose of the phantom revenue straw man. No money was saved on behalf of the taxpayers. That $330,000 in taxes wasn’t real unless and until the company moved here and began purchasing things.
More importantly, for all they knew at the time, the House Finance Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and, there’s no getting around it, the Speaker of the House were costing Rhode Island 120 good jobs by failing to pass tax legislation to entice a company to locate here. We have yet to hear a reasonable explanation as to why the public interest was subverted in this way.

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