Taxes Plus Fees In Rhode Island
RIPEC also urged that the state review the range of fees it charges. The group said that, when compared with other states, Rhode Island ranks near the bottom regarding income from charges and miscellaneous revenues.Here’s the opening step of the suggested review: using 2005-2006 state and local revenue data from the Census bureau (the latest year for which data available is online) and 2006 income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Rhode Island’s ranking per $1,000 of income in the fee and miscellaneous charge categories tracked by the Federal Government can be determined…
The state should review fees and other such charges “to [ensure] the adequacy of charges for services, the need for the charges and whether the state can seek additional non-tax income,” the RIPEC report said.
|Housing and community development||4|
|Other general revenue||13|
|Air transportation (airports)||17|
|Sea and inland port facilities||29|
|Institutions of higher education||32|
|School lunch sales (gross)||34|
|Parks and recreation||41|
|Solid waste management||44|
However, ranking alone doesn’t tell the entire story. For example, for a category like “Natural Resources, RI’s lower-half ranking doesn’t impact total revenue collected very much because no state collects very much in that category relative to its total budget. One way to evaluate the revenue impact from a state’s policy in a particular fee area is add fees to the the total taxes collected, for each fee category in each state, then re-rank the totals and see how the results shift.
When only state and local taxes are considered, Rhode Island begins in the 2005-2006 Federal data from a rank of 8th from the top per $1,000 of income. The table below lists how inclusion of each individual fee category would change that rank…
|Institutions of higher education||-5|
|Other general revenue||-2|
|Sea and inland port facilities||-1|
|Parks and recreation||-1|
|Solid waste management||-1|
|School lunch sales (gross)||0|
|Air transportation (airports)||0|
|Housing and community development||0|
In other words, Rhode Island’s 8th place ranking in taxes drops to 24th when the sum of taxes plus hospital fees are considered, to 13th when the sum of taxes plus higher ed fees are considered, etc.
Obviously, whatever it is that makes hospitals in Rhode Island different from hospitals in most of the rest of the country (except maybe Vermont, who holds down the number 50 spot on the “hospitals” list) has to be determined, before anyone can advance a serious claim that our state’s fees are too low.