A Pat on the Back for the Undeserving
I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that somebody is willing to cheerlead Rhode Island’s governing class. Here’s Donna Cupelo, admiral of the Rhode Island Commodores, a group of “top business and civic leaders”:
There was something different about this year’s legislative session, several Rhode Island Commodores said after attending an upbeat bill-signing ceremony with speeches by Gov. Donald Carcieri, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed and House Speaker Gordon Fox. (The Commodores is a group of more than 325 top business and civic leaders.)
A sense of respect, commitment and cooperation among these elected leaders seemed more evident than ever and a “let’s get the job done” spirit produced some laws that will have a far-reaching impact on our state’s economic future.
From my seat in steerage, that camaraderie is indicative of nothing so much as the successful decision to keep back-room deals out of public view. And the consequence is a bad wind energy deal and a can kicked farther down the road, over which Cupelo blithely stumbles:
The board’s members are pleased that these leaders heeded the call to tackle the challenge of personal-income-tax reform by bringing Rhode Island’s top tax rate of 9.9 percent down to 5.99 percent. That will put our state in line with our neighboring states and improve our national ranking and competitiveness. We believe these changes are an investment in our future and will make Rhode Island more competitive as it aggressively pursues new jobs for our families and young graduates who are looking to make Rhode Island a permanent home.
Never mind that lowering the top rate, while eliminating the flat tax, actually resulted in higher taxes for those who will pay it. Never mind that the reform looks likely to penalize active and economically engaged residents who are striving to improve their lot. It’s an appropriately Rhode Island strategy, though: Working folks who haven’t yet achieved the easier sailing of upper middle class lack the time and resources to hire savvy financial advisers or to change their residence in order to procure the best tax deal may be sufficiently fooled not to react to the reality that they’re stuck in somebody else’s scheme.