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Mattiello Receives Vote of Confidence from RI Business Leaders

Friday, April 18, 2014


While the Feds investigate his predecessor's campaign finance records, new House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is getting high marks from local business leaders for his economic agenda.

Mattiello favors cuts to corporate and sales taxes and a lessening of the financial impact of estate tax rules. He's told business leaders they need to be involved with the legislative process.

“The Chamber would give the new Speaker an A+ for addressing the priorities and needs of the business community in Rhode Island,” said Janet Raymond, MBA, Senior Vice President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce.

“Legislation to reduce the corporate income tax and to address the estate tax are high priorities of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, both of which were mentioned by the Speaker as legislation that he would favor.”

In his first public speech Wednesday, the Cranston Democrat shared his vision of Rhode Island’s economic future with local business leaders at the Providence Marriott Downtown. At the breakfast meeting, hosted by the Chamber, Mattiello said he believes regulatory reforms can ignite the local economy.

"We are pleased that the Speaker is keeping to his word to focus on the economy and will consider tax cuts,” said Mike Stenhouse, founder and CEO for the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a state-based free-enterprise public policy think tank. Stenhouse has an Economics degree from Harvard University, and also had an 8-year professional baseball career, including stints as a major leaguer with the 1986 Boston Red Sox American League Championship team.

“Our Center's sales tax reform ideas will provide the biggest boost to our stagnant jobs market and will save money for every Rhode Island family and business. Of course, it remains to be seen how far related legislation will be allowed to advance or if destructive tax or fee hikes will be imposed as an offset. The recipe for the Ocean State's economy is to cut spending and reduce the size and scope of government. Our recent Spotlight On $pending report, highlighting over $220 million in non-essential spending, demonstrates that major sales tax cuts along with complete repeal of the estate tax can be paid for without any cuts to vital programs."

Awaiting results

Mattiello received an “A for effort” from the East Providence Area Chamber of Commerce, the second oldest chamber in Rhode Island serving East Providence and Barrington, as well as Seekonk and Rehoboth. Executive Director Laura A. McNamara said she’s withholding a final grade until the time when the Speaker’s efforts pay actual dividends.

“Once the results of his proposals are realized, then we can discuss a final grade. Speaker Mattiello is calling out the business community to show up at the State House. Whether his comment was meant to be taken figuratively or literally, it needs to be explained that it is not the culture of the business community to appear at the State House en masse with picket signs and to testify at hearings. If push comes to shove they will do it, but the numbers will not match those of other special interest groups. This does not mean that business people are apathetic and content with the way things are,” she said.

McNamara believes Speaker Mattiello and the General Assembly have the ability to turn Rhode Island’s economy around by passing legislation that is business-friendly to existing businesses and welcoming to new businesses considering a move to Rhode Island.

“When the chambers of commerce and other business organizations speak out, it is on behalf of their members who cannot afford to take time out of their work day to do so. The businesses also cannot afford to send their employees out on their behalf. The East Providence Area Chamber is a partner in the Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Coalition, a partnership of ten Rhode Island chambers of commerce representing over 7, 000 businesses. We are represented at the State House and routinely testify for or against legislation that affects the business community. We just don’t show up with busloads of people to do it.”

Another A

Dr. Edward M. Mazze, Distinguished University Professor of Business Administration at The University of Rhode Island, said Mattiello’s success in the short term should include a measure of what others achieve in helping him move the State forward. As of now, the professor is giving the new Speaker an A.

“In public statements and his actions on the floor of the General Assembly, the Speaker is hitting the right issues that will turn around the state's economy and create jobs. He is committed to reducing the state's unemployment rate, making the state business friendly and eliminating laws and regulations that prevent businesses from growing. The Speaker has a vision which I believe will turn into reality,” Mazze said.

“The Speaker immediately took a stand on three critical tax matters: the corporate tax, the estate tax and the sales tax. He is also asking the business community to support these initiatives by getting involved with government. The Speaker will also need the ideas and experience of others in achieving his objectives. For many years, the business community have been ‘bench warmers’ watching, not acting and expecting government to solve all economic problems. The business community is not proactive other than in complaining or protecting their own interests.”


Related Slideshow: 7 Strategies for Rhode Island Economic Development in 2014

What will it take to move the Rhode Island economy forward in 2014?  GoLocal talked with elected officials, candidates, and leaders for their economic development plans in the coming year. 

Below are key elements of the economic priorities for Governor Lincoln Chafee, Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed, House Minority Leader Brian Newberry, gubernatorial hopefuls General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Ken Block, and RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity's Mike Stenhouse.  

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Governor Lincoln Chafee

"My goal is to have the state continue to focus on the fundamentals.  We will invest in education, workforce development and infrastructure , and provide aid to  cities and towns to lessen the burden on property taxpayers.  I’m confident that these investments and our focus on the basics will allow Rhode Island to exceed Moody’s predictions.”
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Speaker Gordon Fox

"Among the many pieces of legislation the House will address will be issues of higher education affordability, expanding apprenticeship opportunities, and offering help to our manufacturers.  We will also look closely at our tax structure to make sure we are competitive with our neighboring states, including the corporate tax and the estate tax, and I will carefully review the recommendations of the commission studying our sales tax.”

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Senate Pres. Paiva-Weed

Greg Pare, spokesperson for the Senate President, said that the Senate is planning to issue recommendations soon on workforce development initiatives to address the skills gap among Rhode Island job seekers.

"An example of a proposal anticipated in that report is the elimination of state’s Indirect Cost Recovery on the Job Development Fund, which is about $1.2 million this year. Those funds would be directed towards job training and skills development programs to provide immediate impact and help workers gain the skills necessary to succeed in today’s economy."

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Gen. Treasurer Raimondo

"To grow our economy, we need to make Rhode Island a leader in manufacturing again.  Great things can happen at the intersection of government, higher education, and the private sector.  Rhode Island is lucky to have thriving institutions in each of these three sectors, and we need to foster collaboration among them to find solutions to our challenges, and spark our economy.  

By promoting partnerships in high-growth areas, [Rhode Island Innovation Institute] will help grow our manufacturing base, and create new, high-quality jobs."  

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Ken Block

"First, we need to fix Rhode Island’s broken Unemployment Insurance program. The state’s Unemployment Insurance tax, paid by employers, is ranked worst in the country by the Tax Foundation. It is one of the factors that makes Rhode Island an uncompetitive place to do business. Also, it is inherently unfair that a large group of businesses are effectively subsidizing the payrolls of a small group of businesses who misuse the system. There is a simple change to state law that can fix this problem."

"Rhode Island’s temporary disability tax (TDI) is broken, and places an unnecessarily high tax burden on Rhode Islanders. This tax, paid for by employees, will be reduced by changing the way we manage the program. As Governor, I will substantially reduce the cost of purchasing this insurance by requiring that Rhode Island’s program adhere to national norms."

"To best encourage new job creation, I propose the following tax incentive: exempt from future capital gains taxes any new investments in Rhode Island-based businesses. This change would create a powerful incentive for investors who are deciding where to locate a new business, or where they relocate an existing one. This proposal has the potential change the economic playing field for Rhode Island."

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Minority Leader Newberry

“It would be overly ambitious to set being #1 as a goal right now, but we think 25, the middle of the pack, is a reasonable goal to set, one we think we should pursue, and one we can achieve,” said Newberry. "One of the initiatives is a requirement that every bill receive a fiscal evaluation before it can be heard by committee, better insuring that legislators know the real cost of the legislation they are acting on."

"Another proposal would exempt social security income from RI state income tax, making Rhode Island more tax-friendly for our seniors and keeping them here rather than migrating to more tax-friendly states."

“Strong action is way overdue here. Nearly 60% of Rhode Islanders now believe that the state is headed in the wrong direction. We think they’re right, and our central goal is to get it turned around."

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Mike Stenhouse

"As part of the Center's 2014 Prosperity Agenda we recommended that the state:
Repeal or rollback of the state’s regressive sales tax; or the requirement that families have no choice on what schools best educate their children; or punitive estate taxes that drive wealthy people to other states; or restrictions on out-of-state companies to sell health insurance in RI; or the minimum franchise tax, which stifles entrepreneurship; or corporate welfare, to level the playing field; or even renewable energy mandates that drive up costs for every family and business …"

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The guy is new in this position of great power. Time will tell.

Comment #1 by David Beagle on 2014 04 18

Why wouldn’t business leaders NOT support the Speaker who himself was a “backroom brokered deal” (between Bill Murphy & Fox) who not only got his new spealer position as a quick coup speaker shake-up-against his former friend and boss, Gordan Fox, but who favors the rich and the corporate population? He supports the chambers of commerce who by the way support privatization of education (more $ & profit for them) After all this Democrat in Republican lawyer attire is one of them!
Slick Nick favors the estate tax and corporate tax decreases and big deal if the sales tax goes down for people from 7% to a possible what 6%-6.5%...Whoopdeedo! Slick Nick is not a true Democrat….Democrats don’t vote against binding arbitration, create the 10 cent Sakonnet toll bridge cost for the people in that area to have to pay,(like he did) nor do Democrats vote against the union or the pension as slick Nick was a major figure in the passing of RIRSA 2011- the RI Pension Security Act that gave Raimondo security and stole the cola away from the hardworking pensioners who diligently in every paycheck without fail, put their contribution into the RI Pension System as Gina Raimondo eliminated the 3% COLA to those who live, work and pay taxes to RI and gave instead 4.5% fees to her Wall St hedge-fund investor friends who don’t live, work and pay taxes to RI…so again I ask the question…Why wouldn’t the business leaders who supported RIRSA especially those in the defunct coward agency called engage-ri—those corporate cowards who would not even identify themselves or have their names published- why wouldn’t they support “Mattiello their corporate supporter fellow”…one of their own?

Comment #2 by joi fons on 2014 04 18

is he a fiscal conservative? democrat in name only?

or one of the few people at the state house that has his own business and sees the real state of the economy in ri and wants to put it as a priority to fix it. its nt getting better, it is a crisis headed for a meltdown..

ps to the libs-----so how many same sex marriages have there been in a year? where is the economic impact ?

Comment #3 by john paycheck on 2014 04 18

what business do you refer to? The people's business at the State house? Corporate people maybe..
Certainly you are not refering to him having his own business as being a lawyer, are you?? What an inane statement you made..for there are over 32-35 lawyers in the State House Gen Assembly. There are more lawyers in teh GA than any other profession..
As forf same sex marriage, I agree w/you there was no economic impact except now they want to raise the cost of a marriage license three times it 's present price. Yet slick Nick the Catholic lawyer who used to do church readings where Catholicism is agains same sex marriage (not my rule- the Catholic church's rule!) was one who voted for it..can't have it both ways- vote for it and remain a Catholic who believes in the church's teachings...Slick Nick is self serving like the rest of them in there. This is why we need term limits and hold a Constitutional Convention this year since it was rejected the last couoke of times....

Comment #4 by joi fons on 2014 04 18

From who? All his corrupt little friends on capitol hill?
Certainly not from the taxpayers of Rhode Island.

The comedy just keeps coming.

Comment #5 by pearl fanch on 2014 04 18

An observation: What many conservative politicians (such as Mattiello) who want to cut taxes, and many liberal politicians who want to increase spending, have in common is their usual vagueness as to how to balance the budget by program cuts in the first case, and revenue increases in the second. Both appeal to vague assurances of efficiency or reducing waste (that I've heard forever to little effect, remember the "big audit?") so that their position seems painless. Case in point is the bill to eliminate tolls but give more $$ to RIDOT anfd RIPTA without real new revenues. This has liberal and conservative support but how will it be paid for?? By efficiency/reducing waste, yeah.

At least private advocacy groups are more honest, for example calling for eliminating arts or historic protection funding in one case, calling for upper income income tax increases in the second.

By the way, I think "slick Nick" (or "Governor Gump") type of language needlessly detracts from the point being made.

Comment #6 by barry schiller on 2014 04 18

Art Chris Schaper is a fired school teacher from California and a serial spammer. This site sure is hungry for content.

Comment #7 by Lewis Charleston on 2014 04 18

We most definitely need a Constitutional Convention in this state. to give us terms limits to rid us of career politicians, and we need to get rid of the master lever. Voters have been screaming for this change for over 50 years. Since the General Assembly is too busy taking care of their own business, we need to work for a Constitutional Convention to clean the putrid air that permeates Smith Hill.

Comment #8 by Joyce Bryant on 2014 04 19

Hey Joyce--you and every other state--already have term limits. They are called "elections".

Comment #9 by Lewis Charleston on 2014 04 19

Dear Lewis you sound like you may not originally be from Rhode Island. Voters in this state don't know how to vote the thieves out. They usually wait for the FBI or the State Police to raid the politico's office. Of course the voters in this state have also been known to vote the felons back in. That's Rhode Island politics.

Comment #10 by Joyce Bryant on 2014 04 19

ha ha whiny unionists don't like him. That's a good thing.
someday we'll end collective bargaining for these thieves and the state will rise from the ashes.

Comment #11 by Odd Job on 2014 04 19

Legalize Prostitution or Marijuana? Puerto Rico Is Looking for Ideas to Solve Debt Crisis..Good idea for liberal Rhode Island? May as well,we're going to loose gambling shortly and we need another revenue stream to make up the difference.

Comment #12 by LENNY BRUCE on 2014 04 21

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