Another Source for Steve Peoples
Talk about transparency (emphasis added):
The state will forgo an estimated $23.4 million next year as a result of the flat tax, according to an analysis of the Poverty Institute at Rhode Island College. The average tax cut will be $5,337. And the beneficiaries are overwhelmingly in higher-income brackets: 98 percent of the savings will go to taxpayers earning $200,000 or more; almost two-thirds will go to those making more than $1 million, according to the Poverty Institute.
Meanwhile, the reduction of the capital gains tax to 1.67 percent will cost Rhode Island $39 million in lost revenue from 4,384 taxpayers. The average savings for those taxpayers is estimated at $4,300, according to the Poverty Institute analysis. And 84 percent of the taxpayer savings will go to 7,500 people earning more than $200,000.
Since Mr. Peoples is so keen on using objective sources, I’d like to offer him another so that he can remove the “anecdotal” from the following:
Carcieri says he’s asked his newly hired director of revenue, Gary Sasse, to study whether the tax breaks are indeed stimulating the economy. The governor cites anecdotal evidence that high-income earners are leaving the state because of Rhode Island’s high tax burden, which is seventh-highest in the nation, according to an analysis of state and local tax collections for fiscal year 2005 by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, formerly headed by Sasse.
Here’s a paragraph that Mr. Peoples can cut and paste into his next related article (based on data to be found here):
According to an analysis of the most recent U.S. Census data performed by Anchor Rising, a public-policy think tank, 12,084 fewer Rhode Islanders lived in households earning over twice the poverty level (around $60,000 per year, for a family of four) in 2006 than 2005. Around 30,000 fewer people earned over three times the poverty level, almost 25,000 fewer were above the five-times-poverty mark.
I realize that the Journal may be reluctant to rely on sources of less manifest objectivity than the Poverty Institute, but really, how many times are journalists going to throw up the following lob to be smacked down?
“Welfare is the most commonly used weapon in class warfare. People don’t understand the facts, such as that we spend less than one half of 1 percent of state funds on cash assistance and that those families who remain on the program have significant barriers to employment, including disabilities and very limited skills,” said Kate Brewster, executive director of the Poverty Institute. “Therefore, it is an easy target for politicians who want to scapegoat the poor for our state’s budget problems rather than asking tough questions like — can we afford to continue certain tax breaks or tax credit programs that are costing our state tens of millions of dollars?”
For those without the time to click the link just above the blockquote, the upshot is that holding up cash assistance as Rhode Island’s “welfare system” is like holding up its tail as the elephant. But Peoples isn’t done acting as the Poverty Institute’s proxy yet:
Carcieri will cut welfare much deeper in his 2008-’09 budget, reducing eligibility from 60 months to 24 months. The governor’s office would not say how many people would be affected. But the cut would put Rhode Island in the minority of states.
Thirty-seven states have a 60-month limit and five states and the District of Columbia have no limit, according to an analysis provided by the Poverty Institute.
As has been pointed out several times on Anchor Rising (here, by Marc), 30 of those states have shorter consecutive time limits: “For instance, in Connecticut you can only receive assistance for 21 consecutive months and are capped at 60 months over your lifetime. In Massachusetts, you can receive assistance for 24 out of 60 months, but there is no lifetime cap.” In other words, even with no lifetime limit, Massachusetts requires recipients to survive on their own for three years for every two of cash assistance. (If the Poverty Institute wants to be useful, perhaps it can research recidivism rates in Massachusetts — that is, how often people actually accumulate 60 months of handouts over their lifetimes in Mass.)
It may be that Anchor Rising’s clearly stated ideological bent might deter reporters’ usage of our analyses. Sometimes we even acknowledge a religious foundation for our beliefs. But then, in a state governed by theocrats, that should hardly disqualify us:
Meanwhile, [Sen. Harold Metts, D-Providence], a Baptist deacon, appealed to the public and other legislators to shift their priorities.
“Our mission is clear,” he said. “Psalm 82:3,4 says to ‘Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and the needy. Deliver the poor and needy; rid them out of the hand of the wicked.'”