A Not So Handy Bill

House Bill H7950, sponsored by Representative Arthur Handy (D-Cranston) and quizzically entitled “Economic Growth and Fairness Act”, will be heard tomorrow at the rise of the House. There is a rumor also of a rally against the bill at 4:00 in the Capitol Rotunda.
Rep. Handy issued a press release (h/t Dan Yorke) today detailing the substance and merits of his bill. Below are two statements from it.

It will give tax relief to 90 percent of Rhode Islanders
* * *
Under the plan, the state would net an estimated $161.2 million to $185.2 million in new revenue

With apologies to the representative, these two assertions simply are not credible. Regardless of all the nice-sounding statements in the press release, even if they had gone on for twenty pages instead of two, what matters is the juxtaposition of these two suppositions about the same bill. It is a prima facie non-starter that 90% of Rhode Islanders will have a lower overall tax bill while $161,000,000 in new revenue is created.
In addition to a credibility problem, the macro approach of the bill is wrong. Rhode Island’s ranking as the fourth highest taxed has still left the state with an annual deficit of around $400,000,000. Clearly, revenue is not the problem. Nor was the deficit itself an unforeseen bolt from the blue. Rather, it was deliberately created through an over-emphasis on the spending side of the budget. And that solely is where it must be addressed. Broad-based, yes – spending cuts, not tax targets.
So sayth also the House Republicans, who issued this letter today:

Dear Speaker Murphy and Chair Costantino:
On Wednesday, March 26th the House Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing for 2008-H 7950, a bill that would raise taxes and fees to extricate the state from the projected $350 million budget deficit. We do not believe that the solution to Rhode Island’s budget deficit lies in increasing taxes. Rather, we must focus on reducing the amount of money spent.
We see no utility in beginning a dialogue on increasing taxes or fees in Rhode Island. It is well known that Rhode Island is already among one of the highest taxed states in the nation that harbors the most hostile business climate in the United States.
We are opposed to 2008-H 7950, or any other legislation, which would raise taxes or fees in our state.

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Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Once again we’re going to screwed by the GA. And once again the RIGOP has failed to mobilize anyone to rally against it.
BUUUURRRRPPP. Pass the chips. Do you have the remote? I hate this commercial.

Roland
Roland
13 years ago

By Handy’s own language, 10% of the population (or 100,000 roughly), will be charged with forking over $165m.
That’s $1650 per person.
A family of four with two professional earners will “voluntarily” cough up $6,600 on average.
If this occurs, they better pass a coinciding law that restricts these people from moving or there will be no one left to pay these taxes.

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Any bill authored by Paulie Moura nd Art Handy should be rejected sight unseen. Tool and Tool Jr. couldn’t hold a cogent conversation about the weather.
This budget session is going to be a fascinating exercise in political tap dancing. Dancing already and the May revenue projections could make things much much worse. Channel 15 will be must viewing in the coming months. Must viewing! Things are going to get extremely ugly before they get better. Look at Warwick. They propose closing 2 or 3 schools to save money and are still left with a 3 mil deficit. Ugly times ahead!

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