(Most) “Experts” Agree that Population Loss is Bad
In today’s ProJo story on the RI population loss (mentioned here and here yesterday), the Governor, policy experts and academics agree that a shrinking population isn’t a good thing for the economy. Some quotes from the article:
Lardaro also explained that the RI’s tax structure is “punitive” and it is ”discouraging highly paid, highly skilled workers from moving here, and high-tech companies from expanding here.” Especially when our neighbors are more amenable.
But, despite all of this, YKW (you-know-who) doesn’t see a problem:
Kate Brewster, executive director of the Poverty Institute…disputes that the state is unfriendly to business or that it is losing college-educated professionals.
“From 1997 to 2004, the number of Rhode Islanders reporting incomes over $200,000 rose by 87 percent, a faster rate than in neighboring Connecticut and Massachusetts,” Brewster said. “Detailed IRS data show no evidence of the rich fleeing Rhode Island.”
Brewster also said that because Rhode Island offers tax cuts and deductions to the wealthy, the actual percentage of income tax they pay is closer to 5.7 percent. “So there’s no reason to think that high taxes are driving the wealthy out,” she said.
Brewster blamed high housing costs and the lack of new construction, as well as slowing job creation, for the loss in population.
And none of that is related to the state’s economy? Sorry, taking a page from the class warfare playbook doesn’t work this time around. As the experts point out, the demographic being lost are the young and middle-class (or potential m-c), not the rich. But guess who employs them? And they aren’t going to move here so long as the perception is that RI is business-unfriendly and a tax hell.
By the way–and just an aside–why ask Brewster’s opinion on this in the first place, ProJo? Aren’t there other academics who may offer an alternative view instead of a lobbyist who derives her living from advocating for an expanded, tax-funded, social welfare state? Her reaction to any news that may even remotely result in a cut of social services is predictable. Time to shake up the tree a little and rotate in a couple new sources for reaction.