Editorial: Taxes and the damage done

Posted 1/23/20

Bravo to Governor Gina Raimondo for aiming to make Rhode Island the first state in the nation to get all of its power from renewable energy. That end-of decade goal might just be achievable and could …

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Editorial: Taxes and the damage done

Posted

Bravo to Governor Gina Raimondo for aiming to make Rhode Island the first state in the nation to get all of its power from renewable energy. That end-of decade goal might just be achievable and could propel the struggling state to success in ways not yet imagined.

But for those anticipating further inspiration in her State of the State about ways to make Rhode Island’s economy more competitive, this was a disappointing evening.

Gov. Raimondo wants to continue to chip away at car taxes and seeks to give small businesses a modest tax break, but when all is added up, any hopes for an economic rebound will continue to be dragged down by a tax burden that exceeds that of its neighbors and most other states.

Gov. Raimondo was again bullish on spending for free college and pre-K, but just as telling were things she did not mention.

She had nothing to say about the sales tax which, at 7 percent, is among the nation’s highest. It’s the easiest to compare of all the taxes, and makes a real difference for a tiny state whose every store is just a few minutes’ drive from a state with a lower sales tax rate.

Nor did the governor have anything to say about the fact that Rhode Island remains among the top two or three worst states in which to retire, thanks in large part to taxes. Her silence here was deafening, coming just days after a study ranked Rhode Island 48th worst for senior tax burden — others put it dead last. Not helping that ranking is the fact that Rhode Island is one of the few states to tax Social Security income.

Says Kiplinger, which ranks Rhode Island last among retirement states, "Not only does [Rhode Island] tax Social Security benefits … it also taxes virtually all other sources of retirement income, including pension income.” 

Gov. Raimondo was also virtually mum about the near $200 million deficit that hangs over any attempt to craft a budget for the coming year.

The Governor has big dreams for this little state but achieving these will be a challenge until Rhode Island realizes the damage done by its out of kilter tax system.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.