RI Politics 101: Open with a Lie

Members of the General Assembly were setting up a lie even before their first meeting of the year (if you can call it that). From Sunday’s Providence Journal:

The legislature and the governor promise no tax increases. Legislative leaders repeat: “Everything [else] is on the table.” Interest groups fear the coming session will be “the worst in decades.” …
… “At this point, I am not in favor of increasing any taxes,” says Murphy. The governor and Montalbano agree.

Get out those dictionaries, kids, ’cause the rhetoric is going to require some editorial corrections to the definitions:

“For me the devil is in the details on any of those items,” said Costantino, who is reluctant to support “any deal that ultimately is a one-time revenue source.” He also worries about “protection of those assets.” A hike in bridge tolls is a better bet: “I know the residents of Aquidneck Island won’t be pleased, but again that’s something that we have to look at,” Murphy said.

Putting aside the fact that bridges are crumbling around the state and these dunderheads are looking to bridge tolls for general revenue, here’s Merriam-Webster on “toll”: “a tax or fee paid for some liberty or privilege.” Next:

Advocates for the poor have suggested the state raise its recently reduced capital gains tax and reverse the tax break provided the state’s highest wage earners through the adoption of a new flat tax, which will cost the state more than $30 million in tax revenue next year.
The first idea hasn’t gotten much traction among legislative leaders. “At this point I am not open to it, unless somebody convinces me otherwise,” says Murphy. But with respect to tinkering with the capital gains tax rate, Costantino said: “It’s the one area where we are better than Massachusetts… so I’d rather not comment on that at this time.”
Once again this year, the lawmakers are promising to take a closer look at millions of dollars in tax credits the General Assembly has bestowed on select businesses and industries and, in particular, the historic tax-credit program.

Followers of national politics will recognize the Democrats’ famed ploy: Removing tax breaks doesn’t count as an increase. I guess it just restores the natural order of the universe. And my favorite:

By mid-January, state leaders also hope to see the results of a study they commissioned of how much more the state’s 7-percent sales tax might yield if it were expanded into exempt areas such as financial services, high-priced clothing and entertainment. Their long-stated goal: to raise enough new money to reduce the rate.

Perhaps I’m not alone in thinking that increasing the amount of revenue that the state takes via taxes is a synonym for raising taxes, no matter the titular rate. It seems the only area in which the General Assembly is interested in increasing commerce as a means of increasing tax revenue (rather than increasing revenue from commerce already engaged) is gambling.
Given all of the “buts” that accompany solutions for actually spending less, Rhode Islanders should prepare themselves — perhaps by putting more of their paychecks aside in advance — for increased taxes, more gambling, less money to communities and schools, more criminals released from prison, quick-fix sales of state assets (such as the lottery), and little more than stern looks directed at illegal immigrants and social-services leeches.
It’s telling that the AFL-CIO’s George Nee refers to the Quonset-Davisville port as an asset that “we have.” By “we,” the beaten taxpayer may conclude, Mr. Nee means his union.
So which politicians should be the first thrown into the bay? Think of all the toll revenue that could be collected from the mob as it marches the legislature up the Newport Bridge.

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16 years ago

I don’t understand your comment on Quonset-Davisville. NORAD has made it the 14th largest car import terminal and with the infrastructure upgraded to support rail distribution of cars, they are looking to triple their numbers. If the employees also triple, thats another 500 jobs. I don’t know if these are union jobs or not, but even if they are, its still up to 500 more jobs.
I know the NIMBYs are dead set against a container port, but that self limits based on rail/highway infrastructure and available land and berths. Not likely to see the state telling the Air Guard to take a hike, or Electric Boat, or Toray or….. And I don’t see the state ponying up any non-existent money to make that happen anyway. What would be left is a privately funded smaller feeder port at most. Yeah, George’s boyos would unionize the hell out of them. But every port brings in distribution/final assembly/factories that can export, etc. We don’t have the ability to be finicky and whats more, a cruise around QPD’s 3300 acres doesn’t indicate any pristine areas here.

Justin Katz
16 years ago

I wasn’t taking A Position on Quonset; I was merely flinching at the unionist’s reference to it in the possessive.

16 years ago

Well, Nee will get his pound of flesh and he knows it. We still need the jobs. The access to the bay and ocean means there is a certain inflexibility to demand that doesn’t exist for purely land based businesses.

16 years ago

Quonset Point can not become a full container port because it’s reported the new breed of container ships requires a draft of at least 50 ft. Nova Scotia and I believe New Jersey are the main ports due to draft requirements. Boston is no longer a full container port but a feeder port. RI can only be a feeder port and the bay might need dredging (there goes the state natural resource…bay!).
As for “Once again this year, the lawmakers are promising to take a closer look at millions of dollars in tax credits the General Assembly has bestowed on select businesses and industries and, in particular, the historic tax-credit program.”
Changing any part of the Rhode Island Historic Preservation Investment Tax Credit will be a cut your nose off in spite of your face action by the GA.
Investor already have indicated they will leave the state.
You as a professional person who works with wood will appreciate that it is reported a review of the State of Rhode Island Historic Preservation Investment Tax credit (111 projects) by an independent MD company documented for each $1 million of state tax credits in fact leverages $5.4 million in total economic output in the state of RI.
Full report link:

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