Win-Win Legislative Solutions for RI in 2013

Keeping Families at Home in Rhode Island

 

Families are being torn apart in the Ocean State, both geographically and financially.

With the worst jobs outlook in the entire nation, as one of the highest cost of living states, and suffering from a severe population and out-migration crisis, public policy in Rhode Island is driving away loved family members.

With our children having to flee the state to find a decent job; with our retired parents flocking to other states to begin a new chapter of their lives without us; and with many of our own friends and siblings having to uproot their families in search of a better future in a different part of the country … it is time for a winning game plan for Rhode Island.

As the state with the highest level of ‘redistribution of income’, the Center asserts that Rhode Island is the most anti free-market state in the country. The poor national rankings we are now sadly all too familiar with are a direct result of this failed class warfare approach.

Only a vibrant and thriving Rhode Island with a brighter future can provide the financial security and peace of mind that we all need to keep our families together in our Ocean State homes.

To make that happen, it’s time to quit tinkering around the edges and get serious about bold public policy reforms; it’s time for a cultural return to free-market principles and positive solutions that benefit all families, all individuals, and all businesses … and to reject the progressive agenda that is destroying our state.

Win-Win Solutions

All too often, public policy in Rhode Island has been implemented for political purposes, without regard to the unintended consequences for the general public or the economy.

For every spending program or regulation designed to support or protect a specified group of people, some business sector or some other group of people will usually suffer from the corresponding new taxes or hurdles to success: Not to mention the disincentive to work or to conduct business in a responsible manner that overly generous social services and corporate welfare programs have created.

Collectively, the long term negative effect of hundreds of such pieces of anti free-market legislation has been devastating to the state we call home.

This pattern of win-lose legislation, or even lose-lose legislation, must be reversed. We can do better. Instead we need to look toward win-win solutions that benefit the economy and general public as a whole and that provide incentives for individuals and businesses to utilize their natural drive and innovation to thrive on their own.

Flawed Political Approach Leads to a Failed Budget

The political budget approach that our state leaders have adopted over recent decades has failed to serve the best interests of those of us who call Rhode Island ‘home’.

A politically motivated welfare state & insider driven agenda implemented by the state’s Political Class has created a wide-range of self-inflicted economic and educational ailments that have caused Rhode Island families to give up hope in their home state.

Our state budget – a tangled mass of taxes, fees, regulations, and spending – has been driven by a flawed class warfare approach. Over the past dozen years, spending to support this philosophy has grown approximately 25% faster than the combined growth of inflation and population in Rhode Island.

This anti-free market budget approach has been an economic disaster for our state, resulting in:

  • The worst business climate in the entire nation
  • The worst jobs outlook in the entire nation
  • The worst population growth trend in the entire nation
  • Rampant fraud and waste in our social services programs
  • The $75 million 38-Studios debacle
  • Pension crisis at the state and municipal levels
  • State budget deficits for as far as the eye can see

These ailments are clearly the result of a failed budget and a failed culture of government. The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity rejects the strategy of the Political Class to search for never-ending new revenues to support spending for such a dismal collection of public policies. The “balance this budget” mentality is precisely the opposite of the strategy  ur leaders should use.

Imagine the Boston Red Sox as a last place team; and then imagine that the team makes no plans to significantly restructure the roster in order to improve its competitiveness next season … but instead ownership proudly proclaims that they instead have a plan to balance their books! How far would that get them with Red Sox Nation? But yet, RI voterss do not demand more from our elected officials.

Win-Win Policy Solutions for 2013

To initiate a cultural move away from the win-lose, revenue driven budget approach that has so completely failed Rhode Island, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity recommends that a series of concrete, initial legislative steps be considered in 2013 in order to turn our state back toward a free-market economy and renewed economic growth.

Instead of a budget-centric approach, the Center recommends a growth-centric approach; with the goal of seeking to dramatically improve our state’s competitive standing in multiple areas that will provide a much needed, game-changing boost to our stagnant economy …

… with the budget then being adjusted to achieve these win-win objectives!

With jobs, economic growth, and faith in the industriousness of Rhode Islanders in mind, and with the goal of keeping families intact in our home state, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity recommends the following win-win legislative items be considered during the 2013 General Assembly session:

  • Repeal of the state “Sales Tax”: would add tens of thousands of new private sector jobs and provide a major economic boost to the Rhode Island economy by making our state a destination location for local and itinerant shoppers and would put almost $1 billion of our own money back in the hands of local shoppers.
  • Repeal of the “Minimum Corporate Tax”: would stop the current $500 per year minimum ‘fee’ from being a major disincentive for entrepreneurs to start up new ventures or to continue with young businesses. Rhode Island ranks poorly when it comes to new business start-ups.
  • Repeal of the state “Estate Tax”: will help keep Rhode Island as home to business owners and wealthy citizens and would strengthen our state’s overall tax base. Local charities and businesses will also benefit from their donations and spending.
  • Expand “School Choice” Options: would empower parents to decide which schools are in their children’s best interests so that no student is condemned to a failed school because of their zip code. Scholarships or an expanded tax credit program are recommended.
  • Super Majority Tax Act: would require a two-thirds majority in the General Assembly to pass any future tax and licensing fee impositions. If we begin down the path of lower taxes, this will help ensure that our state remains on that course.
  • Pension Transparency Act: would ensure that retirees and taxpayers know where they stand. This act would require state and local governments to provide more realistic projections of unfunded liabilities for both pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) based on both market-rate assumptions and the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB).
  • Electricity Freedom Act: would ensure that energy costs can be reduced for households and businesses, and to promote a better jobs environment.  Our Center recommends repeal of costly state renewable energy mandates that require electric utility companies to provide a certain percentage of their electricity supplies from renewable sources according to a specified time schedule.
  • “Health Care Sharing Ministries” Protections (study to be released shortly): would provide real options for the tens of thousands of state residents who will fall through the cracks of the recently enacted national health care law, the state should enact:
    • ‘Safe Harbor’ legislation that confirms that health care sharing ministries are not insurance under Rhode Island’s law, and that they are exempt from all regulation that applies to insurance companies.
    • A ‘Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act’ would protect the rights of patients to pay for their medical services, either directly to their provider or via health care sharing ministries, and would prohibit penalties that otherwise would be levied on patients for failing to purchase health insurance.

While there are dozens of other policies that should be repealed, reformed, or newly enacted, our Center’s 2013 Legislative Agenda is an achievable set of common-sense initiatives that can start turning our state back toward a path of prosperity.

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity has also assembled a long term legislative plan for the state, the Prosperity Agenda for Rhode Island, from which most our 2013 recommendations derive.

 

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