To The editor:
In a letter I had sent to the governor earlier this year, I expressed my concern about Rhode Island’s sales tax, and the negative impact the tax is having on small businesses in Rhode Island, mainly those along the Massachusetts border. Since then, I have introduced legislation to eliminate Rhode Island’s sales tax, in the interest of opening a serious conversation on the subject.
I had hoped to pursue these issues in talks this year with the governor’s office, but at this time, I am not sure there is any point. In light of the announcement this week that the governor wants to give salary increases to members of his already well-paid cabinet, it seems his priorities put his staff ahead of the people of our state.
With businesses hurting, how can the governor justify such a salary proposal for a select few? With Rhode Island still having one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, how can he spend more taxpayer dollars on individuals, as qualified as they may be, who are making low- to mid-six figure salaries? With every family, and every small business across the state biting the bullet, fighting to live within a budget, cutting back on necessities just to get by, how can he propose this kind of unnecessary spending?
According to a spokesperson in his office who was asked about the proposed raises for cabinet members, the governor’s position is that “some of these positions have not had a salary adjustment in 10 years and the governor believes it is deserved.” Does the plight of everyday Rhode Islanders deserve to be addressed, those making substantially less the governor’s cabinet members, those who are still unemployed or under-employed, those having to choose between medicine or food, between rent or clothes for their children?
While the governor’s proposed pay raises and the issue of sales tax equity are two entirely different subjects, I am disappointed by which issue the governor believes is more “deserving” of his attention.
As a member of the House of Representatives and the House Finance Committee, I will oppose these proposed pay hikes and I hope that my colleagues in the General Assembly will, as well.