The Center questions how many people Mr. Sabitoni would say died because of dog-grooming? Responding to statements from a prominent union leader about if the Center wants to see workers die, we defends the professionally researched policy brief it published last week and decries the knee-jerk, childish reactions from its critics. We call on Sabitoni to make a retraction of his statement.

Center Calls for Retraction of “Fatalities” Statement by Prominent Public Official in Response to its Regulatory Reform Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 13, 2018

Serious Debate Encouraged – Not Fear-mongering – When it Comes to Easing Regulatory Burdens on Workers and Employers

Center Calls on Sabitoni to Retract Outrageous Statement

Providence, RI — Responding to statements from a prominent union leader about whether or not the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity wants to see workers die, the Center defends the professionally researched policy brief it published last week and decries the knee-jerk, childish reactions from its critics.

In its February 13 story on the Center’s RIght To Earn a Living policy brief, the Providence Journal cites a number of quotes from Michale Sabitoni, president of the RI Building & Construction Trades Council, who directly implied that the Center would want to see more industry fatalities.

“It is our Center’s goal to engage in collaborative and thoughtful debate on this important business and economic issue; not to resort to combative and mindless attacks,” advised Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Mr. Sabitoni should be careful when it comes to blatant fear-mongering, as Speaker Mattiello and Congressmen Cicilline themselves support regulatory reform. Does Mr. Sabitoni believe they, too, want workers to die? I challenge him to retract his outrageous statement.”

The Speaker of the House has publicly called for reforms to business regulstions. Also, Congressman Cicilline was quoted in the policy brief as averring that over-licensing “is nothing short of the weaponization of safety requirements against the economic security of working American families.”

The Center questions how many people Mr. Sabitoni would say died because of dog-grooming? Responding to statements from a prominent union leader about if the Center wants to see workers die, we defends the professionally researched policy brief it published last week and decries the knee-jerk, childish reactions from its critics. We call on Sabitoni to make a retraction of his statement.

The Center further questions how many people Mr. Sabitoni would say died because of hairbraider, dog-grooming, or sign-language interpreter accidents… which were the kinds of occupations the report focused on? National research indicates that licensing mandates often mainly serve to protect established businesses from competition, and less so to protect the safety of workers and consumers.

The RIght To Earn a Living report, which provides a philosophical overview of proper and improper occupational licensing practices, also:

  • Highlights the often dubious motives behind specific regulatory mandates
  • Makes a connection to our state’s poor ranking on the Family Prosperity Index
  • Describes many specific examples of over-regulation
  • Includes is a sortable table of Rhode Island’s rank in 102 low-to-moderate-income licensed occupations
  • Summarizes the positive steps that ORR is taking
  • Recommends a number of broad and specific legislative solutions

Additional links to compelling videos and other pertinent information about regulatory reform can be found on the Center’s home page for the occupational licensing issue: RIFreedom.org/RIghtToEarn.

The Governor's budget for FY2019 stands in stark contrast to the successful path to prosperity blazed by the federal government via tax and regulatory reductions in the past year.

Center Critical of Governor’s “Wrong Direction” Budget

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

January 18, 2018

“Keep Going” Strategy Headed in Wrong Direction

Recent Federal Reforms Demonstrate the Path to Prosperity

Providence, RI – The Governor’s proposed “Keep Going” FY2019 budget stands in stark contrast to the successful path to prosperity blazed by the federal government via tax and regulatory reductions in the past year.

“In perpetuating a stagnant economic status quo for Rhode Island, this budget includes a number of new revenue schemes, even while the Administration claims there are no broad based tax hikes,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity.”Treading water simply is not good enough for a state that ranks in the bottom-10 in multiple broad, national indexes: business climate, Family Prosperity Index, Jobs & Opportunity Index, and in regulatory burdens.”

Already spending significantly more per capita than its more prosperous neighboring states, the proposed budget irresponsibly proposes $135 million in new spending, including the planned hiring of hundreds of new government workers. The budget also seeks to extract significant new revenues from the public via a bevy of narrow tax and fee increases, such state sponsored sports gambling and increased marijuana usage, and “scoops” from other agencies. Additionally, the projected $41 million in new trucker toll receipts will inevitably lead to higher prices for grocery and other consumer products.

With a highly successful 180 degree opposite approach, and less than one month after becoming law, the recently enacted federal tax reforms prove that bold reductions in personal and corporate tax burdens, when combined with meaningful regulatory reforms, will lead to real and immediate economic growth. Further, as the nation has witnessed by the hundreds of companies that have recently announced employee bonuses and pay increases, such growth directly benefits workers at all levels.

The $350 BILLION investment plan announced by Apple this month, and the expected $38 BILLION in new federal taxes it will pay, clearly demonstrates – as the Center has consistently advocated, and as America also saw during with Reagan era tax cuts – that lower tax rates that spur economic growth can actually lead to increased revenue flows to the government.

“Sadly, per Amazon’s announcement this, we find again that Rhode Island’s political class was fooling itself into believing that our Ocean State was in the running for a new Amazon corporate campus,” continued Stenhouse. “As we have maintained for years, until RI takes serious steps to improve our dismal business & educational climate, we will continue NOT to make Top-20 lists, and we will continue to hemorrhage from small business shutdowns and transplants to other states.”

Instead of even more taxpayer money dedicated to fund crony corporate welfare handouts, this money could be used to fund broad-based tax cuts that can spur economic growth. If Rhode Island were to work towards a pro-growth, lower tax and regulatory business climate, there is no reason to believe our state could not share in the same dynamic economic growth that we are now seeing across America. With national jobless claims at 40 year lows, with record low African American unemployment, and with Hispanic unemployment also approaching historic lows, it is a win-win situation for Rhode Island to consider meaningful tax cuts and regulatory reforms.

As with last year’s budget, the Center criticizes the ledgerdemain in the budget regarding the deceptive process referred to as “scooping.” Scooping creates the appearance of more general state revenue receipts, by moving off-budget funding from specific state agencies or quasi-publics (e.g., $5 million from the Student Loan Authority) into the general fund. Over time, these agencies may seek to recoup lost funds by shifting the burden to municipal taxpayers or by other increased fees.

Tax Cuts & Jobs Act

Federal ‘Tax Cuts & Jobs Act’ Should Ease RI Budget Deficits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2017

State Budget Will Benefit from Federal Tax Reforms

Economic Growth Will Boost Sales and Income Tax Revenues

Providence, RI – Ironically, Rhode Island’s political class, incessantly in search of new revenues, is criticizing the recently passed “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act,” which could generate more statewide revenues in a more responsible way than any other scheme they have devised themselves.

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity points out that because individuals and businesses necessarily reside in some state, that the economic growth – expected to result from the federal tax reforms – will lead to a boost in state revenues.

In Rhode Island:

  • With about 80% of its residents soon to keep – and spend – more of their hard-earned paychecks … state sales tax revenues will increase
  • With more businesses to keep more of their profits, more and better paying jobs will be created … resulting in more state income tax revenues
  • With more businesses earning more profits and pass through incomes … more capital gains tax and normal income tax revenues will be collected, not to mention increases to individuals’ 401k or other equity positions
  • And, best of all for Rhode Island, it’s the federal government that must deal with the positive or negative budget implications … meaning that the state revenue increases described above come with no strings attached and with no risk.

Further, the reality of the federal reforms, often the target of scorn by the Rhode Island’s political leaders, could mean that more businesses choose to relocate or become established in American, and in states like Rhode Island.

“It is alarming that state officials would deny tax cuts to families and businesses, just to advance their partisan class-warfare narrative,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Because of these federal tax reforms, Rhode Island will no longer need to subsidize taxpayer-funded corporate hand-outs in order to see more and better paying jobs organically grow in our state.”

On the negative side, under the reforms passed today, because state and local income and property tax deductions (SALT) will be limited to ten thousand dollars per year, high-income households and high-value property owners may end up paying more in taxes. This unfortunate circumstance should not be blamed on the federal reforms but, rather, on the state and local governments who have been excessively imposing taxes on its residents … and which have unfairly relied on federal taxpayers in other states to subsidize their high levels of taxation.

The Center has long-maintained that Rhode Island’s corporate welfare based economic development strategy is not sufficient to spur robust economic growth and jobs creation. Instead, the Center has advocated that broad-based, pro-growth tax and regulator reforms – like those that just passed the US Congress – that will lessen burdens on every business and most families in our state – are the only means by which more and better companies will produce more and better-paying jobs.

According to the Center, it is organic economic growth, not corporate welfare schemes, that can alleviate the problems suffered by Rhode Island employers and families … as exemplified by bottom-10 national rankings in such broad-based indexes as: overall state business climate; Family Prosperity Index, Jobs & Opportunity Index; occupational licensing burdens; and the recently released poverty report.

The Raimondo administration is heaping additional burdens on employers by doling out tens of millions of their hard-earned tax dollars to Infosys.

Statement on Infosys Announcement: Small Businesses Should Be the Focus

Pro Small Business Measures Would Benefit Ocean State More than Infosys-Type Corporate Welfare

Federal Tax Reforms Could Open Door for Real Economic Growth

Providence, RI – Just days after touting “Small Business Saturday” the Raimondo administration has heaped additional tax burdens on employers and taxpayers in the Ocean State by doling out tens of millions of their hard-earned dollars to Infosys. Today’s announcement of yet another astro-turf corporate welfare scheme underscores how little is being done to nurture small business employers, who account for well over 90% of all jobs in the state.

Ironically, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity points out that it may be reforms in Washington, DC … often the target of scorn by the Governor … that could be the main reason behind the Infosys announcement, and that may spur real, grass-rootseconomic growth.

“There is little doubt in my mind that the primary reason why Infosys is now locating more jobs in America is because of the easing of federal regulations that we have seen this year,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “If Congress next passes its Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, companies won’t need taxpayer-funded hand-outs to decide to become established and to flourish in our state.”

The Center has long-maintained that Rhode Island’s corporate welfare based economic development strategy, like the Infosys deal, is not sufficient to spur robust economic growth and jobs creation. Instead, the Center has advocated that broad-based tax and regulator reforms – that will lessen burdens every business in our state – are the only means by which more and better companies will produce more and better-paying jobs.

“The Infosys deal does nothing to improve our state’s dismal business climate and will help very few Rhode Islanders,” continued Stenhouse. “Interestingly, while statewide legislative leaders continue to hamper small business growth, it may be the federal government that will take concrete steps to actually improve the climate for all small and large businesses.

“According to the Center, corporate welfare schemes will do little to alleviate the problems suffered by Rhode Island employers and families … as exemplified by bottom-10 national rankings in such broad-based indexes as: overall state business climate, Family Prosperity Index, Jobs & Opportunity Index, occupational licensing burdens, and the recently released poverty report.

After the shock of announced job losses from Benny's & Alexion, will lawmakers continue to push our state towards the progressive anti-business agenda?

Alexion & Benny’s Shock; General Assembly Special September Session; Mandated Paid Leave, Criminal Justice Reform, Hair-Braider Freedom & More

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 12, 2017

Benny’s and Alexion Should Serve as Shock to the Status Quo

Special Fall Session: Mandated Paid Leave Would be Yet Another Suffocating Burden on Rhode Island Businesses

Providence, RI — After the reality-shock of announced job losses from Benny’s and Alexion, and when the General Assembly reconvenes next week, Rhode Island legislators will be put to the test: Will they continue to push our state into the progressives’ anti-business, anti-family land of make believe?

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, in seeking to advance a more prosperous society, finds it unacceptable that our Ocean State continues to rank 45th in both family prosperity and in business climate, and that business and individuals continue to flee our state. A pro-family, pro-business agenda that advances cultural and economic well-being in the real world, both from a public policy and civil society perspective is the goal. Related values, according the national Family Prosperity Index, include family self-sufficiency, marriage, and work.

The Center today puts forth mini-statements on some of those issues that the General Assembly is expected to take up during this special session.

Mandated Paid Leave – only in a land of make believe do employer mandates NOT lead to a loss of jobs and/or pay!  The General Assembly will consider and vote on at least two bills that would mandate that most Rhode Island businesses offer paid leave to all employers.  One reason why our Ocean State has the WORST business climate in the nation is exactly this kind of persistent meddling in the free-market, which advances a radical social justice agenda, by demanding employers pay for mandated handouts to their employees. The progressive Fair Shot Agenda would further harm the Ocean State’s 45th rank in family prosperity and sixth worst business climate. Its two anti-business mandates – mandatory paid leave and a minimum wage hike – would impose even more burdens on an already over-taxed and over-regulated private business sector … with the inevitable result being a loss of jobs and a loss of opportunity for meaningful work for Rhode Island families who are struggling to improve their quality of life.

Criminal Justice Reform – in the real world,  keeping families together and productive is the key to prosperity. As part of its Family Prosperity Initiative, the Center, in written testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, joined with advocates from the left in generally supporting the reforms being advanced by our state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative package of legislation, in the hopes that more people can become more productive members of their families and of society, instead of becoming or remaining unnecessarily embroiled in the criminal justice system. The Center recommends that the gratuitous anti-gun sentencing provisions in H5115 and S0011 be removed.

Hair Braider Freedom – pure fantasy to over-regulate this harmless industry.  The Rhode Island House passed H5436 in May that would exempt hair braiders from burdensome state licensing requirements. The  Center supports regulatory reforms that would free natural hair braiders from the occupational licensing mandates currently imposed on the harmless practice. This licensing burden is especially harmful to many people who would prefer to start new careers and earn paychecks instead of receiving welfare checks. Unfair and unreasonable occupational licensing restrictions must be repealed if we want more Rhode Islanders to have a chance to improve their quality of life and engage in entrepreneurial commerce. Only 14 states, along with the District of Columbia, require hair braiders to acquire a specialized license. In Mississippi and Iowa, hair braiders have to register with the state. Specialty licenses require 600 hours of classes and can cost thousands of dollars.

Pretend “Domestic Violence” Bill Is Actually a Broader Ambush On Second Amendment Rights – Imagine losing your 2nd Amendment rights by exercising your constitutionally guaranteed 1st Amendment rights. This is the untold secret of legislation that appears likely to pass state’s General Assembly this month. The General Assembly will consider voting on some version of H5510 & S0405, the so-called “Domestic Violence” bills. These bills would ostensibly remove the Second Amendment rights of people against whom domestic violence restraining orders have been issued. However, it has been under-reported that these bills would also remove the Second Amendment rights of individuals convicted of a variety of misdemeanor charges, such as cyberstalking or disorderly conduct. This hidden provision has not been subject to proper public debate, and should be of  deep concern to center-right and left lawmakers who are being misled by the radical progressive agenda.   Read More

Hair Braider Freedom

Center Supports Cape Verdean Woman, Others, in Quest for Hair Braiding Freedom. Hearing Today

Regulations Inhibit Many From Pursuing Financial Freedom
Joceyln DoCouto Cannot Afford Onerous Licensing Requirements

Providence, RI — Hair braiding is a cultural and practical art-form for Jocelyn DoCouto and her family, which hails from Senegal and Cape Verde. Yet, unable to afford the burdensome levels of fees and training required to receive permission from the government to legally work in a field that presents no safety risks, Jocelyn, as well as other would-be entrepreneurs, are not able to turn this generationally-developed natural hair practice into a legitimate business that would provide them with hope for financial independence.

With a hearing scheduled for this afternoon, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity today joins with the RI Families Coalition in support of regulatory reforms that would free natural hair braiders from the occupational licensing mandates currently imposed on the harmless practice. Across the country, recognizing the need to encourage honest work, conservatives and liberals are banding together to advance related reforms.

Legislation sponsored by Representative Anastasia Williams (H5436) would allow natural hair braiders to engage in legal work without the mandate to obtain the same permission from the government that is required of cosmeticians and hairdressers.

“This licensing burden is especially harmful to many people who would prefer to start new careers and earn paychecks instead of receiving welfare checks,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center, who also plans to tesitfy today. In 2016 Rhode Island ranked a dismal 44th in ‘entrepreneurship’ according to the national Family Prosperity Index. “Unfair and unreasonable occupational licensing restrictions must be repealed if we want more Rhode Islanders to have a chance to improve their quality of life and engage in entrepreneurial commerce.”

Anti Free-Market, Protectionist Policies? It is a common scheme for advocates of certain industries to lobby government to impose strict licensing requirements in order to create barriers to competition. According to a 2012 report by the Center, many such occupational licensing mandates have a disproportionate and negative impact on low-income workers, who often can’t afford the time or money to meet the sometimes onerous and unnecessary requirements.

Further, the Institute for Justice, in 2016, reported that there were 16 states in the United States that required hair braiders to get a “cosmetology” license, which could involve spending hundreds or thousands of hours in training and hundred or thousands of dollars on tuition or fees. In these cosmetology classes, students have to learn how to use chemical treatments and how to cut hair – tasks that have nothing to do with braiding hair.

Additionally, 14 states, along with the District of Columbia, require hair braiders to acquire a specialized license. In Mississippi and Iowa, hair braiders have to register with the state. Specialty licenses require 600 hours of classes and can cost thousands of dollars.

However, in recent years, many states, understanding the anti-commerce nature of such “protectionist” policies, have moved to reverse similar anti-jobs mandates. With regard to providing hair braiders the freedom to work, the states of Indiana, South Dakota, Iowa among others have considered licensing repeals for this specific vocation.

Trump Was Right. Unemployment Rate Masks RI’s Deteriorating Employment Market. Real Unemployment Rate 12.4%?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 15, 2017

Unemployment Rate Would be 12.4% if Labor Force Matched Nation

Inadequacy of Unemployment Rate Clouding Political Discourse
Deteriorating Labor Force Produces Positive Rate?

Providence, RI — Donald Trump may have been correct in his skepticism of apparently positive national unemployment rate news during the 2016 Presidential Campaign. As the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has long argued, and once again backed by the latest employment data, negative declines in the state’s labor force have led to positive improvements in Rhode Island’s official unemployment rate. Yet, a broader look employment actually shows that the Ocean State remains mired as the third-worst state nationally on the Center’s January Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI).

Labor Force Change RIDespite boasts of a strengthening state economy based on its January unemployment rate of 4.7%, a closer look at the data reveals a major underlying problem that is often overlooked: Since 2007 U.S. employment and labor force participation has risen by 4-5%, while Rhode Island saw an opposite decrease by 4-5% in these same categories over the same time period.

“It is not a positive when our state’s decreased unemployment rate is almost entirely due to policies that are driving our labor force out of state,” warned Justin Katz, research director for the Center. “If our state’s labor force instead had increased at the same rate as the nation, our unemployment rate would be a whopping 12.4%.”

JOI takes a broader look at employment and prosperity than does the narrowly-defined unemployment rate. JOI makes it clear that meaningful long-term work and high-paying jobs, which are vital to individual dignity and family self-sufficiency, are not in high supply in Rhode Island as compared with other states. A more detailed analysis of the January data by Katz, specifically on employment and jobs, can be found on The Ocean State Current, the Center’s journalism and blog website.

Despite its weak national ranking remaining unchanged, the state’s raw JOI score improved slightly in January to 19.0 on a scale of 0-100 from its December score of 17.9. Findings from another national study, the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), where Rhode Island ranked 43rd overall in “economics” and 44th and last in New England in “entrepreneurship”, tend support JOI’s stagnant rankings as opposed to the unemployment rate rank.

Of the three factors that make up the January JOI, the Ocean State ranks:

  • 35th on the Job Outlook Factor (measuring optimism that adequate work is available): UP four slots from last month’s rankings
  • 41st on the Freedom Factor (measuring the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): DOWN two slots from last month
  • 46th Prosperity Factor (measuring the financial motivation of income versus taxes): NO CHANGE from last month

Rhode Island’s poor JOI and FPI rankings are personified by Robert Martinez, a US Navy veteran, who fought a losing battle against oppressive local government regulations and a statewide hostile business climate that has derailed his dream of forging a better quality of life for himself by developing a successful mobile food vendor business.

The Center’s monthly JOI report is based on state and local tax collection data from a a variety of federal agencies including the U.S. Census and on income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

Rhode Island has not gained ground on the national JOI metric, remaining – as it has for years – in the bottom five among all states. JOI is a broader and more accurate measure of employment and well-being than the traditionally cited and highly narrow unemployment rate, which has fluctuated more dramatically in recent years for Rhode Island, but which is not an accurate barometer of economic growth or family prosperity.

Supporting the findings of the JOI metric, Rhode Island also ranks 48th in 2016 the Family Prosperity Index, the broadest national measure of family well-being.

For the JOI homepage, click here.
For a description of JOI and its three sub-factors, click here.

STATEMENT: Center Joins with RI Families Coalition to support Freedom to Work for Hair Braiders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 1, 2017
Hair Braiders Should Enjoy Freedom to Pursue Work

Providence, RI — The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity today joins with the RI Families Coalition in support of regulatory reforms that would free natural hair braiders from the occupational licensing mandates currently imposed on the harmless practice.

Legislation sponsored by Representative Anastasia Williams (H5436) would allow natural hair braiders to engage in legal work without the mandate to obtain the same permission from the government (an occupational license) that is required of cosmeticians and hairdressers.

“This licensing burden is especially harmful to many people who would prefer to start new careers and earn paychecks instead of receiving welfare checks,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. In 2016 Rhode Island ranked a dismal 44th in ‘entrepreneurship’ according to the national Family Prosperity Index. “Unfair and unreasonable occupational licensing restrictions must be repealed if we want more Rhode Islanders to have a chance to improve their quality of life and engage in entrepreneurial commerce.”

Anti Free-Market, Protectionist Policies? It is a common scheme for advocates of certain industries to lobby government to impose strict licensing requirements in order to create barriers to competition. According to a 2012 report by the Center, many such occupational licensing mandates have a disproportionate and negative impact on low-income workers, who often can’t afford the time or money to meet the sometimes onerous and unnecessary requirements.

Further, the Institute for Justice, in 2016, reported that there were 16 states in the United States that required hair braiders to get a “cosmetology” license, which could involve spending hundreds or thousands of hours in training and hundred or thousands of dollars on tuition or fees. In these cosmetology classes, students have to learn how to use chemical treatments and how to cut hair – tasks that have nothing to do with braiding hair.

Additionally, 14 states, along with the District of Columbia, require hair braiders to acquire a specialized license. In Mississippi and Iowa, hair braiders have to register with the state. Specialty licenses require 600 hours of classes and can cost thousands of dollars.

However, in recent years, many states, understanding the anti-commerce nature of such “protectionist” policies, have moved to reverse similar anti-jobs mandates. With regard to providing hair braiders the freedom to work, the states of Indiana, South Dakota, Iowa among others have considered licensing repeals for this specific vocation.

STATEMENT on Proposed 2017 RI Budget

STATEMENT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
June 8, 2016

RI Families Once Again Left Out of State Budget

Multiple Special Interest & Corporate Welfare Programs Outweigh Few Relief Provisions
Lawmakers Adopt Center’s Recommendation to increase EITC in lieu of Minimum Wage hike

Providence, RI — With nothing bold to address the massive structural budget deficits, its dismal business climate, or the state’s 48th ranking on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity‘s Jobs & Opportunity Index, Rhode Island lawmakers are once again advancing a special interest laden agenda that offers little relief or hope for new opportunities for the average Rhode Island family.

“What does the average family have to cheer about in this budget? The few provisions that offer minor relief to some are overwhelmingly outweighed by the massive special interest and corporate welfare spending that will continue drag-down our state economy,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center. “Only when the total relief package is bigger than new spending can we claim that Rhode Island is heading in the right direction.”

While recognizing the reductions in retiree income taxes, the corporate minimum tax, and trucker registration and beach parking fees, the Center notes that these cuts are themselves narrowly targeted and are more than offset by the increases in corporate welfare, new Uber and marijuana taxes, pre-K funding, and new special-interest bond initiatives.

The Center maintains that major broad-based tax reforms are required to jump-start the Ocean State’s stagnant economy and jobs market.

Also according to the Center, the continued funding of the unethical legislative and community grant programs, despite the mirage of reform, can only be seen a perpetuation of a corrupt, status quo insider culture.

As help to low-income workers, the Center praises lawmakers for adoptng the Center’s March 2016 recommendation to hold the minimum wage steady and, instead, increase the Earned-Income-Tax-Credit (EITC), which rewards work without risking job losses.

BEST & WORST BILLS of 2016: Uber Killer Among Worst Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 17, 2016

Radical Uber Killing Bill Would Harm Rhode Island’s Already Struggling Families

Providence, RI — While Rhode Island ranks 48th on the Jobs and Opportunity Index (JOI), demonstrating the deep need for new work within our state, the House is considering a bill that would kill ride sharing services like Uber or Lyft. These services are an efficient and innovative part of Rhode Island’s economy, and should be given a chance to prosper according to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, which today updated its list of the BEST and WORST bills of the 2016 General Assembly session.

By adding unreasonable burdens, H8044, sponsored by House Majority Whip Rep. Jay Edwards (D, Portsmouth), would impose heavy regulations and fees for transportation network companies (like Uber), including (among other things) $150 fees for each driver, unusual insurance regulations, bans against cash use, bans on driver gun licensing, and disability mandates. As seen in other states, legislation like this could force Uber or Lyft to leave the Ocean State due to government interference.
At a higher level, once again General Assembly lawmakers in 2016 are on track to continue a multi-year, negative trend of public policy that will reduce economic justice for Rhode Islanders. This according to the 2016 General Assembly Freedom Index, an interactive, live tool published by the nonpartisan Center.
Also of note, 14 individual lawmakers currently have scores above zero, while in 2015 not a single Representative or Senator earned a positive score.
Lawmakers and the public are encouraged to visit the Legislation tab on the 2016 Freedom Index to determine the bill rankings for the majority of bills that have been rated, but not yet voted on. The “Summary” tab displays individual lawmaker scores.
Summary: As of May, of the 324 bills that have qualified for the index:
  • 234 bills are rated negatively, with only 87 bills receiving a positive score, and 3 yet to receive a rating
  • The negative bills would total a (-370) cumulative score, if all were to be voted on, while the positive bills would produce a +125 score, resulting in a net (-245)overall General Assembly rating
  • Led by Senator John Pagliarini (R, Portsmouth) just 14 of 113 lawmakers can currently boast a positive individual score, consisting of 1 Democrat, 11 Republicans, and 2 Independents; with 4 in the Senate and 10 in the House
Although not all 2016 bills have received final ratings, it is clear that the few positive pieces of legislation are massively outweighed by the much greater number of negative bills, resulting in a net negative impact, as has occurred in all prior years evaluated. The Center notes that not all bills have received final reviews and that the public should check back regularly for updated bill ratings and legislator rankings.
Additional resources are available on the main RI Freedom Index page, including a number of online and interactive tools and information for users, with links to scores from prior years: