Coalition Looks for TCI Sanity from McKee

For decades, Rhode Island has been an economic laggard in the United States, languishing under the truism that it was “the first in and last out” of every recession.  With the historic challenge of recovering from the downturn imposed by the COVID-19 lockdown, Rhode Island’s new governor, Daniel McKee, could make a big difference with his business experience and history of small-business advocacy.  That is the perspective a coalition of state, national, and local groups hopes Governor McKee will apply to one policy question in particular:

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, authors of the open letter, thanked McKee for his prior voiced support for the small business community. The coalition’s letter went on to point out how artificial new fuel taxes, the goal of the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI), would create large and unnecessary costs on the private sector – for no environmental benefit.

Specifically, the twelve groups (which include the Tiverton Taxpayers Association, of which this writer is a member) want McKee to withdraw Rhode Island from a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the previous governor, Gina Raimondo, signed on behalf of the state before joining the Biden Administration as commerce secretary.

Generally, the TCI empowers a regional organization operated by bureaucrats from multiple states to develop carbon-emission restrictions on states with the purpose of increasing the cost of traditional fuels and moving the energy industry toward renewable sources.  Under the latest MOU, Rhode Island agrees to work with the group on its Transportation & Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P), which imposes a gasoline tax (termed as “allowances”) on gasoline and diesel suppliers. Of the fourteen states or jurisdictions that formed the TCI and developed the program, only Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., have agreed to force this tax on their communities.

According to the opposition coalition’s letter:

Despite claims to the contrary, this cap-and-trade scheme for gasoline would artificially and necessarily have to raise the price of fuel by up to 38 cents per gallon over 5 years; and would place additional burdens on businesses, not only at the pump, but by increasing the costs of vehicle-delivered goods and services. In short, TCI would make our state’s businesses climate even less competitive with other states.

Instead, the coalition claims, Rhode Island could secure itself a much-needed competitive advantage in the region by withdrawing from the program.

The signatories of the letter include:

  • RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity
  • The National Federation of Independent Businesses
  • Americans for Prosperity
  • Bristol County Concerned Citizens
  • Little Compton Taxpayers Association
  • Americans for Tax Reform
  • Gaspee Business Network
  • Tiverton Taxpayers Association
  • Fiscal Alliance Foundation
  • Fiscal Partners
  • Portsmouth Concerned Citizens
  • The Gaspee Project
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