POLL: Rhode Islanders say “No” to high costs of TCI Gas Tax

Rhode Islanders Reject Notion of Higher Gas Taxes as Solution to Reduce Carbon Emissions
Support for TCI Crumbles as Residents Learn of Negative Economic Impacts #NoTCITax

Providence, RI – Struggling to recover from the pandemic lockdowns, almost 20% more Rhode Islanders oppose than support the plan for a new TCI gas tax as a solution to reduce carbon emissions, after learning of its potential negative economic impacts on lower-income families and on their own financial security. 

According to a recent poll conducted by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, initial conceptual support for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) drops significantly when voters learn the policy will result in gas tax hikes, a significant projected loss of jobs, and a major reduction in the average family’s disposable income. 

Rhode Islanders oppose TCI when they learn about its high costs – including a $0.23 increase in the gas tax, an estimated 2,000 jobs lost, and a $1,200 reduction in disposable income for the average Rhode Island family.

  • Support for TCI falls from 42.0% (total of voters who strongly or somewhat support TCI) to 29.6% when voters learn of the projected negative economic impacts.
  • Opposition to TCI rises from 35.8% to 48.6%.

Concern over TCI’s negative economic impact is universal.

  • Support among Democrats falls from 62.2% to 41.8%
  • Opposition from independents/unaffiliated votes rises to 55% (from 45%) after learning of the high costs; support falls from 31.5% to 23%.
  • Support among younger voters falls from 52.3% to 33.1%

Rhode Islanders also fear that TCI’s economic impact will be disproportionately felt by low-income families and commuters.

  • 48% feel that TCI will “disproportionately affect commuters and low-income families.”

“Rhode Islanders clearly feel, after all we’ve been through, that now is not the time to punish people for driving their vehicles,” commented the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “On the flip side, by not adopting this TCI scheme and keeping gas taxes where they are, our Ocean State would gain a competitive advantage over our Massachusetts and Connecticut neighbors.” 

Results are based on a survey of 500 voters statewide fielded January 22-24, 2021 that included questions dedicated to TCI. Interviews were conducted by both live operators and collected online via text message. The margin of error is +/- 4.4% with a 95% confidence level. The poll was sponsored by the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity and conducted by Advantage, Inc

TCI is a proposed interstate compact, officially endorsed by soon to be former Governor Gina Raimondo, that would artificially raise gasoline prices under the guise of reducing regional carbon emissions. Enabling legislation for TCI is expected in Rhode Island’s 2021 legislative session.  

Last week, the Center published a 10-page report, The Effects of a TCI-Style Gas Tax on Motor Fuels in Rhode Island, which calculates that the total social costs of such a gas tax would be 105 times more severe than the anticipated social benefits. Under TCI in Rhode Island, global carbon emissions would be reduced by an insignificant 0.00016%. 

Last month, the Center was one of 20 co-signers of an open regional coalition letter, which concluded that “at its core, TCI is a poor concept that is fundamentally regressive, economically damaging, and places an unnecessary financial burden on people who can least afford it.” 

More information about the proposed TCI gas tax can be found on the Center’s TCI webpage: RIFreedom.org/NoTICtax . 

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