For Earth Day, “No TCI Gas Tax” Letter Sent to Governor McKee by 12 Advocacy Organizations and Citizens Groups

Massive Burdens on Businesses & Families with No Environmental Benefit

   

Providence, RI – On Earth Day 2021 (April 20-22), a coalition of 12 advocacy and citizens groups joined the Center’s prior call on Governor Daniel McKee to withdraw Rhode Island from the controversial TCI Gas Tax regional compact, ostensibly designed to reduce carbon emissions, but, which in reality, is nothing more than a pure money grab.

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.

With a TCI Gas Tax bill expected to be submitted soon, after former Governor Raimondo signed-on to the TCI scheme in 2020, the 12 group coalition also called on the current Governor to pledge to veto any related legislation.

“The dishonesty of TCI proponents is alarming,” claimed the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. “They falsely claim they can achieve major emissions reductions with a minor gas tax. In reality, the multi-year plan would raise fuel taxes by 40 to 50 cents per gallon … and would do virtually nothing to reduce global carbon emissions.”

The letter cited studies and public polls demonstrating that the highly regressive gas tax, and the projected $1200 per family cost, are highly unpopular among the public. A petition opposing TCI has already generated over 10,000 emails to state lawmakers.

The coalition letter also discusses the competitive advantage the Ocean State would enjoy regionally by not joining the TCI compact and keeping fuel taxes where they are.

The letter concludes it appeal to McKee by stating: “Withdrawing our state from TCI would be a terrific first-step and would send a strong signal that you are serious about improving our state’s dismal business climate.”

In March, the Center unilaterally called on McKee to withdraw from TCI. After receiving strong support, this larger coalition effort was put together.

The entire letter and a listing of all 12 coalition signatories can be found here.

Executive powers

Flanders, Stenhouse Provide Testimony Calling for an End to Unchecked Executive Branch Emergency Powers

“Appalled” that a state Senator is a “big fan” of unconstitutional EOs

Providence, RI – Former state Supreme Court Justice and board member Robert Flanders, as well as CEO Mike Stenhouse, provided testimony on behalf the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity at yesterday’s Senate Oversight Committee hearing on the emergency Executive Orders issued during the current pandemic.

“I’d like to thank Chairman DiPalma for holding this important hearing,” commented Stenhouse. “However, I was very disappointed in the lack of interest in providing balanced government by most of the other committee members.”

Former judge Flanders submitted written testimony which, in part, stated: “Rhode Island’s Emergency Powers Act should be legislatively reformed to provide for more democratic emergency governance, along with a re-examination of the statutory parameters of the Governor’s emergency powers and the related roles of the legislative and judicial branches of state government.”

Flanders, whose testimony listed many areas of concern regarding executive over-reach and potentially unconstitutional executive orders, has also publicly stated that “there is no pandemic exception to the Constitution.”

Senate Oversight Committee Hearing on Executive Powers

Stenhouse, in his verbal testimony (beginning at the 50:35 mark), firmly stated that he was “appalled” that a sitting Senator (Stephen Archambault) openly averred (40:45) at the hearing that he was a “big fan” of an unconstitutional executive order described by  an attorney from the executive branch. The Senator would later double-down on his absurd assertion (58:45).

Stenhouse decried the legislative branch’s lack of oversight of the executive branch – especially the publicly transparent and vigorous debate that would accompany such oversight – during the still-ongoing declared state of emergency. He called for reforms that would require General Assembly approval to extend emergency Executive Orders beyond their initial 30-day period.

Stenhouse also listed 10 states that have already passed or were moving similar legislation, after it became clear that existing law in many states provided too much unchecked power to the executive branch during states of emergency:

Kentucky, Utah, and Ohio have already passed related laws; while West Virginia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Texas, North Carolina, and Indiana are expected to pass laws or constitutional amendments. These legislative actions, generally and among other items, would place time limits on executive emergency powers and would require the legislature to extend emergency orders by joint resolution.

Only one committee-member, Senator Jessica De La Cruz, expressed support for limiting emergency executive powers by requiring legislative approval.

How the Ocean State Should Spend Its Federal COVID Relief Funds

Background

The old saying goes, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” but advocates of the left-wing’s modern monetary theory (MMT) want you to think there is.

Under traditional economic theory, every government dollar spent or borrowed must be eventually paid back, leading to upward pressure on taxes imposed on the citizenry. But according to this more-recent socialist monetary theory, federal governments that control their own currencies, as does America, should be free to print (without backing) and spend as much money as they desire to fulfill their political and societal goals, without regard to debt levels or offsetting funding via tax and other revenue receipts. According to today’s Left, there can be as many free lunches as they can possibly imagine.

In reality, the MMT economic approach is a myth, albeit a popular one. As has resulted in virtually every socialist country, most recently Venezuela, this approach to wanton government spending will necessarily lead to disaster over the mid-to-long term: hyper-inflation and massive devaluation of the core currency … and inevitable economic despair.

But most politicians are concerned only with the short-term time-period of their political careers.

Since states cannot print their own money out of thin air and must operate under a balanced budget, leftist MMT advocates have devised a scheme whereby the federal government will print trillions in “fake money,” spend some on what it desires, and then distribute the rest to states and localities to spend as they wish.

While anyone with an economic background knows that this irresponsible approach will eventually backfire, the illusion of a free lunch will become widely promulgated… and will be highly popular among an unsuspecting citizenry.

Localities and states across America will soon be receiving a significant windfall in millions and billions of dollars of perceived free money from the federal government under the guise of COVID relief funds. How to productively spend that money is a public policy question that every governor, mayor, town or county manager, and legislative council will soon have to consider.

The Federal Rules

According to the relevant language in the actual federal legislation, there are generally authorized “uses” for the funds, along with a few specifically barred uses. State and local government will have approximately two-and-one-half years to spend the money, with all funds to be spent by December 31, 2024.

The American Rescue Plan Act provides $350 billion to state and local governments, with $219.8 billion distributed to states, territories and tribal governments and $130.2 billion for local governments.

In general, the money is authorized to be used for:

  • Costs incurred to respond to the pandemic emergency or its negative economic effects, including assistance to households, small businesses, nonprofits, and affected industries (such as tourism, travel, and hospitality)
  • Premium pay for eligible workers who do essential work
  • Replacing lost tax revenue relative to revenue collected in the most recent fiscal year
  • Investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure

States are expressly prohibited from using the funds to directly or indirectly offset a reduction in net tax revenue during the covered period (March 1, 2021, through December 31, 2024) or to delay the imposition of any tax or tax increase. States are also prohibited from using the funds to make deposits into pension funds. Notably, local governments are also prohibited from using the funds to make deposits into pension funds. However, local governments are not prohibited from using the funds for tax relief.

Most of the data and analysis in this report was originally developed in partnership with Marc Joffe, Senior Policy Analyst at Reason Foundation, and Michael Lucci, Senior Policy Advisor at State Policy Network.

National Highlights

  • State and local governments are expected to experience $140 billion in revenue losses from 1Q20 through 2Q21.
  • Congress has already allocated approximately $400 billion in state and local aid.
  • State and local governments started the pandemic recession with over $200 billion in rainy day and other fund balances.
  • States are incurring additional expenditures due to increased Medicaid enrollment. The costs are more than offset by temporarily increased federal Medicaid support, but states are prohibited from removing ineligible individuals from the program.
  • Additional funds to state and local governments are not needed. Instead, Congress should focus on policies that will spur economic recovery.

General Risks to State and Local Governments

Additional federal aid could harm the long-term financial health of states by:
Overwhelming state and local governments with more money than they can effectively spend.

  • Making it more difficult for states to maintain balanced budgets in the future.
  • Incentivizing states to rely on the federal government for financial support in future crises instead of developing their own fiscal responsibility.
  • Making spending decisions based on directives from DC instead of the local needs of constituents and communities.
  • Funding new and expanded programs that require future tax increases to sustain.
  • Enlarging state and local governments to a point where they cannot adjust accordingly and become a larger portion of the economy while the private sector contracts.

Rhode Island Federal Aid

The latest revenue projections show that states are not experiencing as much of a shock from lost revenue as anticipated. The projected $140 billion in lower revenue is more than made up for with approximately $400 billion in various forms of federal aid to state and local governments. In fact, 48 out 50 states received more federal aid than anticipated revenue lost, and Rhode Island falls into this category.

State and local governments will now need to adjust their finances for a different economic reality than existed pre-pandemic.

Estimated Aid to Rhode Island and Its Municipalities

Rhode Island will receive a total of approximately $1.78 billion in federal COVID relief aid:

  • $1.12 billion for the state government
  • $0.11 billion for capital projects
  • $0.54 billion to be distributed to its 39 local governments

City and Town Aid

Rhode Island’s six largest cities will receive the lion’s share of allocated municipal funds, with significantly less for the smaller cities of Newport and Central Falls and the other 31 towns.

The Center’s Recommendations

In general, the COVID relief funds to states and localities should not be spent on any project or initiative that permanently expands the scope or size of government. Spending projects should be temporary, with defined end dates and should have no risk of incurring associated maintenance costs in future years.

Furthermore, all spending plans should be 100% transparent, with full and detailed reporting on the status of all projects and all vendor disbursements. If the function is not adequately staffed within the governmental unit, an auditor or inspector-general-type oversight capacity should be established, temporarily, with the relief funds.

While the federal government has provided general guidelines for authorized spending uses, plenty of grey areas that will be clarified in the coming months and years, as inquiries to the U.S. Treasury are responded to or as inevitable future court cases set precedent.

Based on calls with our national partners and our collective best efforts to interpret these federal guidelines and navigate the grey areas, our Center puts forth the following specific project ideas. For Rhode Island, some of these ideas are applicable only at the state level and some only at the local level, while some others may be applicable at both levels.

The state of Rhode Island is expected to receive approximately $1.8 billion in COVID Relief Funds. All but a few hundred million, which will be spent to plug anticipated budget gaps due to lost tax receipts resulting from the pandemic shutdowns, may be available for special projects or purposes.

The Center’s recommendations are conceptual only. We do not attempt to calculate the cost of each program.

State Government

Educational Uses

  • “Catch Up ESAs” — up to a $750 scholarship “match” for every public and private school K–12 student who was forced into distance learning, to fund complementary educational activities or items, such as tutors, online classes, or other learning aids, where that locality has itself enacted a similar Catch Up ESA scholarship program.

Small Business Uses. The most important component in achieving a full economic recovery is to ensure that a strong foundation exists in the small business community. Without more and better companies, there cannot be more and better–paying jobs for Rhode Islanders.

  • Eliminate fees in specified occupational licensing industries.
  • Allow for immediate and full “expensing” of capital expenditures on RI tax returns through 2024.
  • Fund an increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to support low-income working families that were hit hardest by the pandemic lockdowns. NOTE: this EITC increase is only recommended if the state’s minimum wage mandate on employers is not increased.
  • Temporary tax credits for businesses in industries hardest hit by the pandemic lockdowns. Since the government created the lockdown problem, it should play a role in a solution.
  • Temporary waiver of the annual corporate tax, to encourage small business creation.
  • Partially fund cities and towns to phase-out or create/increase the exemption level for the unpopular “tangible assets” tax.

Infrastructure Uses

  • Upgrade Rhode Island’s power grid by moving underground major electric lines on state roads to help avoid future mass power outages.
  • Expanded broadband wireless coverage in remote and low-income areas to allow for increased educational or telehealth options.

General Budget and Public Uses

  • Pay out of Unemployment Insurance benefits.
  • Eliminate “beach fees” through 2024.
  • Pay off some our state’s bonded debt.
  • Build up “Rainy Day Fund.”
  • Fund a temporary Office of the Inspector General with full authority to oversee expenditures and publicly report on inappropriate use of funds.

Civics Uses

  • Provide a print copy of the United States Constitution and the Rhode Island Constitution to every elected official and government employee at the state and local level.

Municipal Governments

Larger municipalities will receive tens of millions of dollars in windfall funding.

Unlike the restrictions on state governments, the federal guidelines for the COVID Relief Funds do not ban municipalities from using these funds to reduce taxes.

Educational Uses

  • “Catch Up ESAs” — a $500 scholarship for every public and private school K–12 student who was forced into distance learning, to fund complementary educational activities or items, such as tutors, online classes, or other learning aids.
  • Property tax refund in recognition that full in-person learning was not made available to students in 2020 or 2021 and other government services were curtailed.

Small Business Uses

  • Property tax credits for businesses in the hardest hit industries or for all businesses.
  • Phase-out or create/increase the exemption level for the unpopular “tangible assets” tax (potentially funded via state use of COVID Relief Funds)

Senior Citizens Uses

  • Upgrade senior centers with a one-time purchase of recreational aids (audio/visual, for example) or transportation (shuttle buses).

Infrastructure Uses

  • One-time upgrades to parks, sports facilities, and other recreational areas.

General Budget and Public Uses

  • Pay off some the locality’s bonded debt.
  • Build up “rainy day funds.”
  • Fund a temporary Office of the Inspector General with full authority to oversee expenditures, and publicly report on inappropriate use of funds.
Motorists

MEDIA RELEASE: Center Urges Motorists to Join in Call to Stop the TCI Gas Tax

Center Launches Campaign for Ocean State Motorists to “SAY NO” to TCI Gas Taxes

Providence, RI – The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity announced today that it has launched its “Say NO to the TCI Gas Tax” campaign, including an online form, whereby Ocean State motorists can petition the state lawmakers to reject the regional gasoline cap-and-trade scheme, known as the Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI).

The simple form, once completed at www.RIFreedom.org/TCI-action, will automatically send an email to the Governor and to legislative leaders. Social media advertising, to raise awareness of how state residents can take action, has already begun.

A January report by the Center estimated that the TCI Gas Tax would cost the average family an extra $1200 per year in increased fuel, food, and retail product prices.

“As our state struggles to recover from the pandemic, and while Biden administration policies are already driving up the price of gasoline, it should be unthinkable that state lawmakers would choose this time to plan an additional 30-40 cents per gallon gas tax increase ,” warned Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “People who drive their cars are not ‘bad guys’ as some government officials believe.”

A leaked video caught a Massachusetts government climate official overtly stating that people who drive cars, like “seniors on fixed incomes” are “bad guys” who need to have “the screws turned on them” so as to “break their will.”

The petition email in part states; Along with the 7 in 10 Ocean Staters, per a January public poll, who oppose TCI once they learn of its high cost:

  • I oppose the TCI gas tax scheme, designed to make gasoline prices so high that I will be forced to drive less, and so that “gasoline will go away.”
  • I am not willing to pay major new gas taxes at the pump and for increased prices of vehicle delivered goods, especially when there is virtually no environmental benefit.
  • I believe Rhode Islanders should be free to choose the energy options that best fit our lives.

Earlier this week, the Center formally called on Governor McKee to withdraw Rhode Island from the regional TCI compact that former Governor Raimondo signed the state up for.

In December, former Governor Gina Raimondo signed-on Rhode Island, just one of three states to do so, to the TCI Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). Implementation of TCI would lead to a significant increase in automobile and diesel gasoline prices for motorists, while also systematically limiting regional supplies of vehicle fuel.

More information about the proposed TCI gas tax can be found on the Center’s TCI webpage: RIFreedom.org/NoTCItax. The Center is one of over two-dozen organizations in the northeast working cooperatively to defeat TCI in their respective states.

Vote to “Reject” all 7 bond Questions

Rhode Islanders can’t afford $642 million – We’ve Spent Enough Money!

Doc Skoly Does It Again! #RejectThe7RI

Center Releases Counter-video to Cooler/Warmer II

Providence, RI – In response to a union-funded advertising video in support of new bonded debt that will cost taxpayers $642 million, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity today released its own video ad, urging voters to “REJECT” each of the 7 special-interest oriented spending questions on the ballot for the special election, now underway through March 2. 

Citing the Ocean State’s existing level of crushing debt, the video’s theme is ‘We’ve spent enough money’. The Center’s video was produced by JawDoc Productions, the same outfit that in just few hours in 2016, at virtually no cost, produced a superior and more popular counter-video to the  massively expensive and geographically-incorrect Cooler/Warmer video ad embarrassingly published by Governor Gina Raimondo at significant taxpayer expense. 

“This year, special interest unions conspired to fund yet another advertising debacle, again paying exorbitant fees to an out of state firm, which made the same mistake in using geographically-incorrect images,” commented Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Just take a look at the money behind this ad campaign promoting massive government spending; it is clear that such spending will only enrich insider cronies at the expense of the hard-working people of our state.” This year’s union video has been dubbed by many as Cooler/Warmer II

The Center argues that debt is a delayed tax. And that as Ocean Staters struggle to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic, forced to cut back on their family and business budgets … that likewise, the State of Rhode Island should trim its big-spending habits. “It would be completely tone-deaf and yet another self-inflicted wound for government to impose such future burdens on taxpayers during these trying times,” concluded Stenhouse. 

Dr. Stephen Skoly, founder of JawDoc Productions and a maxillo-facial surgeon, is also Chairman of the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.  

More Reasons for Voters To Reject All 7 Bond Questions

  • Debt is $14,700 per taxpayer, giving RI a D for fiscal health.
  • Per capita bonded debt of $10,215, 3rd highest
  • In general, RI’s interest costs of 25% (17th highest)
  • Estimated interest of 5% on 3/2/21 bond questions produces interest cost estimate of 60% ($242m on $400m).
  • Story of recent migration in RI is young, early-career people moving out and older people moving in. Inevitable tax increase to pay for debt will push more younger folks out while squeezing the older folks, especially those on fixed incomes.

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 . 

Center Publishes TCI Economic Impact Report on Same Day Raimondo Auditions for U.S. Commerce Secretary

Center Publishes TCI Economic Impact Report

Negative Costs Over 100 Times More Severe than the Benefits #NoTCItax

Providence, RI – As the state struggles to recover from the crushing economic lockdowns imposed by Governor Gina Raimondo, who today is the subject of confirmation hearings for the cabinet position of U.S. Secretary of commerce, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity published a report detailing the significant negative economic impact on the Rhode Island economy should the state approve participation in the controversial Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). TCI is a proposed interstate compact, officially endorsed by Raimondo, that would artificially raise gasoline prices under the guise of reducing regional carbon emissions.

The 10-page report, The Effects of a TCI Gas Tax on Motor Fuels in Rhode Island, 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%. “The obvious purpose behind this TCI scheme is not environmental – it’s nothing more than a greedy money grab,” suggested the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse.

The report, researched and co-published by The Beacon Hill Institute in Massachusetts using its state tax analysis modeling program (STAMP), concluded: 

We find that the imposition of a carbon (or TCI) tax on motor fuels would produce a  less-competitive business environment, resulting in a slower-growing economy that  produces lower employment, disposable income, and investment. While the revenue generated under a carbon tax could be used to create new jobs, any new jobs would be created at the expense of the private sector.

Per the report, if TCI were implemented in 2022, within 5 years, the Ocean State would suffer:

  • A per family loss of disposable income of $1205/yr ($815 million overall)
  • A loss of 1856 state-based jobs
  • Reduced business investment of $826 million
  • A loss of state GDP of $416 million

“After all that the people of our state have been through this past year, for government now to punish people for driving their vehicles, is just flat out cruel, especially for lower-income families,” added Stenhouse. “In seeking to control and restrict the energy choices of businesses and residents, potentially leading to fuel shortages and long gas lines, these far-left unelected bureaucrats will give Americans another reason not to reside or work in Rhode Island.”

The Center’s report also listed multiple examples of failed carbon tax efforts in the U.S. and across the globe.

Earlier this 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.” 

Enabling legislation for TCI is expected in Rhode Island’s 2021 legislative session. In the coming weeks, the Center expects to release a public survey poll about Rhode Islanders’ attitudes towards increased gas prices, especially when those taxes result in little, if any, environmental benefit.

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

Center is one of 20 Regional Coalition Partners Formally Opposing the Proposed TCI Gas Tax

Economic Impact Report & Public Poll Soon to be Released

Providence, RI – The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity announced today that it has co-signed a coalition “open letter” opposing the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a proposed interstate compact that would artificially raise gasoline prices under the guise of reducing regional carbon emissions.

The coalition letter, which was signed by 20 free-market organizations from over 12 northeast and mid-Atlantic states, discusses how the recently released TCI memorandum of understanding (MOU), of which Rhode Island was one of only three states to officially endorse, purposefully misleads the public by claiming that minimal price increases at the pump will compel people to drive significantly less. The prior year’s version of the MOU indicated that a much more substantial TCI gas tax of 38 cents per gallon would be required to attain the goals put forth by the extreme environmentalists who crafted the TCI scheme.

“It is clearly obvious that as our state and region struggle to emerge from the crushing economic impact of the pandemic shutdowns, that now is not the time to increase travel and transportation costs for Ocean State families and businesses,” advised Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Further, as stated in our coalition letter, the TCI gas tax will necessarily hurt poor and rural residents much more severely than their higher income and urban peers.”

The letter concludes 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. Please reject it.” Enabling legislation is expected in Rhode Island’s 2021 legislative session.

In the coming weeks, the Center expects to release a TCI economic impact report as well as a public survey poll about Rhode Islanders’ attitudes towards increased gas prices, especially if those taxes return little, if any, environmental benefit.

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

Statement on Raimondo’s Cabinet Nomination

A Downgrade for America is an Upgrade for R.I.

Gina Raimondo’s Nomination for US Commerce Secretary Could Lead to Major Economic Consequences

Providence, RI – The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity today issued a statement regarding the nomination of Rhode Island Governor, Gina Raimondo to serve as Commerce Secretary for the pending Biden administration: “What will be a downgrade for the United States economy, should be an upgrade for our Ocean State economy.” 

The Center first broke the story of Raimondo’s nomination, based on its DC sources, way back on November 17 on its popular In The Dugout video blog show (25:15 mark), hosted by CEO, Mike Stenhouse. During the show, Stenhouse described the stark downgrade a Secretary Gina Raimondo would be for America, when compared to current Cabinet Secretary, Wilbur Ross, who from 2017-2020 led America to the greatest economic performance of any country in the history of the world. 

With limited experience in the private sector as a venture capitalist, Gina Raimondo has virtually no “hands on” experience in running a market-based business, as most of her career has been in government and politics, where she has become known as a Democrat hyper-partisan.

Conversely, the nonpartisan current Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross earned the reputation as a Wall Street icon. Ross is the former Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of WL Ross & Co. LLC and has over 55 years of investment banking and private equity experience. He has restructured over $400 billion of assets in the airline, apparel, auto parts, banking, beverage, chemical, credit card, electric utility, food service, furniture, gypsum, homebuilding, insurance, marine transport, mortgage origination and servicing, oil and gas, railcar manufacturing and leasing, real estate, restaurant, shipyard, steel, textile and trucking industries.  Secretary Ross has been chairman or lead director of more than 100 companies operating in more than 20 different countries. Named by Bloomberg Markets as one of the 50 most influential people in global finance, Ross was previously an adviser to New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani on privatization, and was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the board of The U.S. Russia Investment Fund. 

As Rhode Island suffers from some of the most severe economic consequences and lack of population growth among all states in the nation, Raimondo’s economic and management track record over the past six years has led to a long-trail of wreckage in the Ocean State:

  • Under Raimondo, Rhode Island has regularly been ranked as having the “worst business climate” in America
  • Raimondo unilaterally destroyed tens of thousands of Rhode Island jobs and thousands of businesses via long-standing, unjustified, and ineffective “shut-down” mandates during the pandemic
  • Raimondo failed to adequately distribute federal CARES Act Covid-19 relief funds intended for the struggling small businesses community, instead, choosing to appropriate much of the funding to plug massive state budget gaps, a persistent problem during her tenure
  • Raimondo failed to reform the Providence public school system, which, during her tenure as Governor was called an “education horror show” by the Wall Street Journal, in the aftermath of a devastating report by the prestigious Johns Hopkins Institute
  • Raimondo has overtly supported multiple anti-jobs climate change initiatives, most recently including being one of only three states to sign-on to the radical Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI) that seeks to punish businesses and families for driving their vehicles for work or pleasure
  • Raimondo’s catastrophic and failed rollout of Rhode Island’s public services database, UHIP (Unified Health Infrastructure Project), against the recommendation of the federal government, led to innumerable Ocean Stater not receiving their benefits 
  • Raimondo successfully led efforts to impose oppressive minimum wage mandates, unfair trucker-tolls that violate America’s sacred Dormant Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, 
  • Raimondo handed-out countless taxpayer-funded subsidies to insider corporate cronies, at the expense of small businesses
  • Raimondo partnered with SEIU in a scheme to destroy the private home care industry
  • Raimondo failed to reform the Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF), resulting in the death of many children under state-care

“With Rhode Island expected to lose one of its two prized US House Congressional seats when the results of the 2020 US Census are released, under Governor Gina Raimondo, our state has clearly become a less desirable place to raise a family, receive an education, and build a career,” commented Stenhouse. “If and when current Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee becomes Governor, at least Rhode Island will have a chief executive who has made attempts to regularly engage the small business community and hear-out their concerns.”