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4 Things RI’s Government Can Do to Improve the Economy, But Won’t

Saturday, March 08, 2014

 

Barry Hinckley

There are four things the Rhode Island legislature could do to move our state from the bottom five to the top five in economic rankings, but won’t:

  • Eliminate the personal income tax
  • School choice / Vouchers / Right to Work
  • Delaware style corporate reform, including tort reform.
  • Eliminate the estate tax. Don't simply raise the exemption threshold, We want billionaires dying here!

 

In both business and sport the competition is constantly analyzed, especially if they are beating you. A common refrain from the boardroom to the locker room is:

“What are they doing that we’re not that is leading to their success and dominance over us?”

This isn’t rocket science; in fact it’s conventional wisdom. A team that’s getting beat, like Rhode Island is, should naturally look to the teams that are thrashing them and determine what those teams are doing differently, that is leading to the thrashing.

Fortunately in the League of States where Rhode Island is a chronic last place finisher, it’s easy to determine what the leading states like Texas, Florida and others are doing that we’re not. Unfortunately Rhode Islanders have developed an affinity for politicians, who for one reason or another, ignore conventional wisdom and repeat the failed policies and tactics of a loosing team. On the playing field of business and sport this gets you fired, in Rhode Island, oddly, this gets you re-hired.

Eliminate the income tax

If you want to encourage people to work, so they make money and spend it locally and remain self-reliant (a pre-Obama American virtue) you don’t penalize or tax them for working.

A sales tax is the only true measure of productivity and the fairest way to fund government. Furthermore raising taxes on vises like Alcohol (society’s most destructive drug) and legalizing marijuana would help raise revenue, the rest would be made up in growth (because people would have more money to spend), reforming education and right sizing government. Keep in mind NH has no sales tax, no income tax, is 7 times our size and their roads freeze and are destroyed every winter, yet they operate on about half of our budget. Go figure.

School choice

It’s a proven fact, that parents will move mountains and to mountains to get their kids into a great, free or affordable school.

Unfortunately, Rhode Island schools are nothing to brag about. About 30th nationally in a country that is 28th out of 32 industrialized nations. In other words no one anywhere is studying what we are doing in education. Not surprisingly in the government jobs program that is masquerading as an education system, we are spending at the top as a nation and state on below average schools and our children are paying the price in a competitive global marketplace. My hometown of Newport is spending over $18,000 per pupil--and trust me the private schools on Aquidneck Island are a thriving alternative and unfortunately families that can afford to, are making the sacrifices to prove it…

As a comparison, the government doesn’t make the food in this country, but they do supply vouchers to people who can’t afford food. Sheldon Whitehouse, a big supporter of food stamps, is really, really rich and can afford to send his kids to the best private schools, and he does. However, he is the exception in Rhode Island, not the rule.

Most people have one choice for their kids’ education, a government school, the same school that Sheldon Whitehouse and other progressive leaders in Rhode Island have opted out of for themselves and their children. These progressives are big fans of vouchers to be redeemed for private sector food, yet against school vouchers. In fact they are big supporters of the single choice government monopoly on education for people who can’t afford private school. Why? If Rhode Island became a school choice state, educational opportunities would explode into a true competitive marketplace enabling families and educators a broad selection of places to work and learn. And where there is competition, quality always improves.

Furthermore, tax payers and our struggling towns, would benefit from lower costs derived through competition. And trust me, people would move here to take advantage of our enlightened education system. Rhode Island children from all walks of life would enjoy the same schools that people like Sheldon Whitehouse choose for their children…In fact you’d hear a big sucking sound from states around us, as hard working people, pursuing a better education for their children, flock to Rhode Island to work and live.

Who knows, Langevin may even hold on to his congressional seat for the rest of his life if our population decline turns around and we keep that seat which is now getting sent to a Pro-Growth state in a few years.

Tort reform

When business people drive through Rhode Island, generally on the way to a state where they have jobs, they can’t help but notice the Heavy Hitter and others like him gracing our billboards and airwaves. This sends a clear message to business owners, “that guy must be making a lot of money suing people like me, probably not a good idea to locate my next facility here”…

Common sense tort reform with real consequences for frivolous lawsuits would make Rhode Island a much friendlier place to conduct business. Rhode Islanders can get ahead through job choice rather than falling prey to unscrupulous litigators…and while the legislature is reforming one system ripe with fraud, the workers comp system could use a business friendly overhaul as well…

Finally, wealthy retired people have time and money

Smart policy would be designed to keep them in Rhode Island spending their time, spending their money, here, not in Florida. The income tax already drives the high taxpayers out of state, the exact people the progressives need in order pay for their dependency programs. As one of the few remaining states with an inheritance tax, Rhode Island’s hefty estate tax is the final straw for all those on the fence. In fact I had many lawyers, accountants and financial planners all say same thing to me during the campaign, “it would be malpractice if I didn’t tell my clients to move to Florida to set up their estate”, and of course they do… and in response Rhode Island, has a system that points a gun to the head of our wealthy spenders forcing them to leave the state, for six months, right before the holidays, so they do their shopping and dining in Florida. And to add insult to injury, one of the tests of residency, is where you donate, so of course the Florida charities benefit while the Rhode Island charities suffer…

Duh. Let’s keep them here, spending in our shops and restaurants and donating to Rhode Island charities. Maybe they’d leave for a couple months after the holidays to avoid the worst of the weather, but six months, which includes the shopping and giving season is just plain stupid.

Who wants to bet me these things will never happen in Teresa and Gordon’s Big House on the Hill?

Former U.S. Senate candidate Barry Hinckley is an entrepreneur, most recently founding and building Bullhorn, Inc. into a world leader in staffing and recruiting software. Bullhorn was sold in 2012 to Vista Equity Partners. Barry, a free market libertarian, lives in Newport where he is working on his next business venture.

 

Related Slideshow: The Ten Biggest Issues Facing the RI General Assembly in 2014

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#1

The Budget

The latest report by the House Finance Committee illustrates that Rhode Island will start the next fiscal year, which starts in July 2014, with an estimated deficit of $149 million. The report shows the FY 2014 Budget contains numerous overspending problems—meaning that the General Assembly will have to cut costs somewhere.

So where will the cuts come from? Lawmakers will have to examine the state's costliest programs. According to the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, the most expensive government programs in Rhode Island are Elementary and Secondary Education, Public Welfare, Pensions, Higher Education, and Interest on Debt. Click here to view a comprehensive list of the state's costliest government programs.

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#2

Bankrupt Communities

The state may be two years removed from Central Falls filing for bankruptcy, but 2014 could be the year that other financially strapped Rhode Island communities follow suit—most notably Woonsocket and West Warwick.

With bankruptcy on the table in both 2012 and 2013, this year poses more financial uncertainty for the cash-strapped city of Woonsocket. Earlier this year, the city's bond rating was downgraded due to the city's numerous financial issues—including a growing deficit, increasing unfunded pension liability, and a severe cash crunch.

Similarly, the embattled town of West Warwick faces a variety of financial questions in 2014. With its pension fund set to run out by 2017, the town must address its unfunded liabilities this year if it hopes to regain financial stability. That, coupled with an increasing school department deficit, make West Warwick a contender for bankruptcy.

Look for Woonsocket and West Warwick's elected state officials to address their respective cities' financial issues in the upcoming legislative session.

Prev Next

#3

Sales Tax

With the Special Joint Legislative Commission to Study the Sales Tax Repeal set to report their findings to the General Assembly in February, the possibility of sales tax repeal in Rhode Island could become a reality in 2014.

"Our sales tax is killing small businesses, especially those in border communities," said Rep. Jan P. Malik (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren), the commission's chair. "How can Rhode Island continue to compete at 7 percent, with Massachusetts already lower than us and considering reducing its sales tax even farther? How can Rhode Island restaurants compete at 8 percent? They can’t. We need to find a way to fix this, and a serious discussion of our sales tax is a discussion we need to have, now, before more small stores close their doors."

In addition to Malik, proponents of sales tax elimination include the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity and Forbes Magazine.

Prev Next

#4

EDC Reorganization to Commerce Corporation

On January 1, 2014, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation will be replaced with the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation—a move which has the potential to impact to adversely affect recipients of federal funding contracts made possible currently through the EDC.

This could include the state's Broadband Initiative, Brownfields program, and other contracts made through the EDC. As a result, recipients will now be required to re-apply for federal funding as of January 1st.

The massive overhaul of the EDC was prompted by the 38 Studios debacle, which is projected to cost Rhode Island taxpayers $102 million. 38 Studios, the now defunct video game company, filed bankruptcy in May 2012 just months after securing a $75 million loan from the EDC.

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#5

Marijuana Legalization

With the state's marijuana decriminalization law going into effect this past April, Rhode Island may be a candidate for marijuana legalization in 2014.

Legislation to legalize marijuana has been introduced in each of the last three years, but has never been voted on. Earlier this year, Rep. Edith Ajello (D-Dist. 3, Providence), who is chair of the Judiciary Committee, introduced the bill in the House. Roughly half of the Judiciary Committee supports the measure.

The bill also has the support of the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization focusing on drug policy reform, which hopes to legalize marijuana in ten states, including Rhode Island.

Approximately 52 percent of Rhode Island voters support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted in January.

Marijuana is currently legal in Colorado and Washington.

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#6

Constitutional Convention

Come November 2014, Rhode Island voters will likely be asked whether they wish to convene a constitutional convention, which involves individuals gathering for the purpose of writing a new constitution or revising the existing one.

Every 10 years, Rhode Island voters are asked whether they wish to amend or revise the constitution. Voters rejected this opportunity in 1994 and 2004. Although rare, Rhode Islanders can vote to hold a constitutional convention and in effect, take control over the state government.

If approved, a special election is held to elect 75 delegates, who then convene to propose amendments to the Rhode Island Constitution. These amendments are then voted on in the next general election.

The likelihood of this occurring highly depends on if the General Assembly does its job to ensure residents that the state is heading in the right direction financially and structurally.

Rhode Island’s last constitutional convention took place in 1986. It proposed 14 amendments—eight of which were adopted by voters.

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#7

Education Board Structure

Less than a year after the General Assembly created the 11-member Rhode Island Board of Education to replace the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education and the Board of Governors for Higher Education, there are multiple questions surrounding the structure of this newly consolidated agency.

Although lawmakers voted to merge the state's two education boards in June, the Board of Education now wants to split its agency to create two separate councils—one with the statutory authority over kindergarten to grade 12 and another governing higher education.

The Board of Education will present its proposal to the General Assembly during its next legislative session and lawmakers will once again determine how the agency should be structured.

The Board of Education currently governs all public education in Rhode Island.

Prev Next

#8

Sakonnet Bridge Tolls

Rhode Island may have implemented tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge this past year, but they could be gone by 2014.

On January 15, the East Bay Bridge Commission—which was established to allow lawmakers and officials investigate various funding plans, potentially eliminating the need for tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge—will report its findings to the General Assembly. The General Assembly is then required to vote on the issue by April 1.

The commission was established in July following the General Assembly's approval of the 10-cent toll.

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#9

Superman Building

Located on Westminster Street in Downtown Providence, the former Bank of America Building (commonly referred to as the Superman Building) may be the tallest building in the state, but as of right now, it's just a vacant piece of property.

The building's current owner, High Rock Westminster LLC, was most recently looking for a total of $75 million to rehabilitate the skyscraper—$39 million of which would come from the state.

With the sting of the 38 Studios deal still fresh in the minds of lawmakers, a $39 million tax credit appears unlikely.

The question of what will become of the Superman Building remains to be seen. 

Prev Next

#10

Master Lever

Championed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Block (while head of the RI Moderate Party), the movement to eliminate the Master Level, which allows voters to vote for all candidates of one political party with a stroke of the pen, is poised to heat up in 2014.

Despite Block's strong push to repeal the 1939 law, the measure did not get a vote in the General Assembly last session.

In October, Block told GoLocal that he believes that House Speaker Gordon Fox is responsible for the General Assembly not voting on the proposal.

“Despite the support of a majority of 42 state Representatives, thousands of emails from concerned RI voters and unanimous testimony of more than 100 people who came to the State House in person to testify that the Master Lever had to go, the Speaker personally killed the bill in the most unaccountable way possible—he did not allow the House Judiciary Committee to vote on the bill,” Block told GoLocal.

Speaker Fox has stated on multiple occasions that he believes the Master Level is a legitimate tool that many voters use.

 
 

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Comments:

All these ideas make sense. BUT you have to keep in mind that democrat's number one goal is to keep the PARTY happy and in complete control, not the masses of NON-PARTY members. ANY lessening of the tax burden translates into lost party/union members, can't have that here. Democrats here aren't THAT naïve to the fact that the state is in horrible economic condition, its just that THEIR team is in fine shape,and in charge, so why not stay the course?

Comment #1 by David Beagle on 2014 03 08

School choice / Vouchers ???

democrats don't want better schools or better educated graduates. better to have uninformed and undereducated voters in future years to vote democrat. maintain the voter base.

The democrat of today is very different than 50 years ago.

JFK - "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"

Obama - "ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can do for you"

Comment #2 by john paycheck on 2014 03 08

So long as the dweebs keep voting for the hacks and paying the bills for their highlife, what you see is what you get.

Comment #3 by G Godot on 2014 03 08

Rhode Island is in a fiscal and economic death spiral and is on the cutting-edge of Alexander Tytler's observation that democracies only last until the people realize they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. Democrats, like Sheldon "To the Manor Born" Whitehouse, are working overtime to make sure that happens as long it keeps them in power. It's as if they believe there's some endless cornucopia of tax dollars upon which they can draw to buy votes of the self-serving and clueless, and that the repercussions are too far into the distant future about which to be concerned.

John Paycheck--how right you are. The Democrat Party is vastly different from the one that existed in JFK's time. Since at least 1972, when it nominated the clueless leftist George McGovern, it has been on a radical course that has continued unabated. Its success is, in large measure, a result of its ability to buy off voters and maintain its image as the "party of the working man"--uh, "person." But that the reality of that label has long since disintegrated as self-serving public employee unions have taken over the party, much as, ironically, FDR feared. Because union voters are more likely to vote in primary elections, they have inordinate influence in a Democrat-dominated state like RI where nomination is tantamount to election. I've known many state employees--I was one myself-- who, while forced to belong to a union, do not share the union's agenda. But their dues money goes to support the big government, union-friendly candidates anyway. It’s sort of like what Obama does with our federal tax dollars writ small. Union leaders are overwhelmingly leftist, so their personal agenda becomes the union's agenda upon which they lavish the funds stolen from the wallets of all their members.

That, in essence, is RI’s problem. As private union membership has plummeted to less than 7% of the private sector workforce, government union membership continues to grow. But while private sector unions must maintain at least a modicum of economic sanity if their businesses and industry are to survive in a competitive economy, public sector unions have no such concern. Their primary concern is GROWING government so that it redounds to their benefit in the form of higher salaries, benefits, union members, dues, more highly paid union functionaries, more street money with which to buy or influence politicians, and spread around at election time on propaganda, phone banks, and all the other little things union thugs do to maintain their grip on power.

Beyond the public employee unions, the Democrats do whatever they need to do to keep their other constituencies in line. The women’s vote is courted largely through the abortion issue, and, now, the fraudulent “war on women.” Keeping them safely in the coalition requires that they ignore the myriad ways in which Democrats control their bodies in so many other ways—from cradle to grave (remember Julia?). Freedom of choice on education. No. Freedom of choice on union membership. Well, no. Freedom of choice on health care. Certainly not. Reduce the tax burden? Are you kidding. Lower the regulatory burden on business that translates into higher prices on goods and services to the consumer. No way! Increase energy production to put downward pressure on rising costs at the pump and for home heating oil. Are you kidding, we’ve got an environment to protect and “global warming” will soon be upon us and Narragansett Bay be will be flowing into our living rooms—says the clueless Sheldon. In short, it’s a control agenda that never stops as long as the voters keep electing clueless wonders like Sheldon Whitehouse.

Comment #4 by Kendall Svengalis on 2014 03 08

neutering public sector unions should be #1.

Comment #5 by Odd Job on 2014 03 08

Rev Ike --- "you can't lose with the stuff I use"

Comment #6 by john paycheck on 2014 03 08

"Unfortunately Rhode Islanders have developed an affinity for politicians, who for one reason or another, ignore conventional wisdom and repeat the failed policies and tactics of a loosing team. On the playing field of business and sport this gets you fired, in Rhode Island, oddly, this gets you re-hired." Hinckley

A sad commentary on our state.

Comment #7 by Joyce Bryant on 2014 03 08

Also, Let's generate some revenue:

http://rhodemapri.org/guest-blog-rhode-island-first/

Comment #8 by Stephen Maciel on 2014 03 08

A charitable person might suggest that management of the failing state economy is something the collection of union hacks, retired football coaches, teachers- retired and otherwise, and underemployed do gooders and employees of "non-profits"
who inhabit the legislature are ill prepared to confront. That might be correct. The state, however small, sports a multibillion dollar budget and few outside of certain droids in windowless rooms in state offices can follow the pea under the walnut shell very far. Rodney Driver (I date myself) the math professo and rep from "South County" could, however Herr Driver had certain opinions about the Nation of Israel which rendered him persona non grata on the East Side, from whence many contributions flow. He was good on the state budget,though, raising more and more pointed questions which engendered sharper and more sarcastic answers from "the leaders" as he
homed in on insider nest feathering. A very liberal democrat, but a danger to the boys in charge and thus marginalized by them. We could use a few like him - international politics aside- up there to weigh in on the "no bridge toll no bridge toll, promise -- oops there's a birdge toll in the budget shennigans. We live in hope, or move to Florida.

Comment #9 by G Godot on 2014 03 08

It is a shame that Mr Hinckley is not representing RI in Washington. He understands how to grow the economy and how to create jobs!

Comment #10 by Michael Byrnes on 2014 03 09

Mr. Hinckley is incredibly ignorant if he thinks the same tired set of principles that have decimated the middle class going back to Ronald the fraud Reagan are going to suddenly produce results. In the meantime, the top 1% are dancing on their yachts knowing they can find suckers like Mr. Hinckley to spew their rhetoric to the gullible masses. Mr. Hinckley is the equivalent of a chicken throwing his support behind Colonel Sanders...both pitiful and tragic.

Comment #11 by Jonathan Bainsworth on 2014 03 09

Jonathan,
Right. Rhode Island has the right message and same tired set of principles that has given us almost 10 percent of our workforce unemployed and a rating for business friendliness in the bottom 5%. Your obsession with the 1% is counterproductive. Every year many of the oppressed 99% move into the ranks of the vile 1% and some of those 1% move into the ranks of the 99%. How do you judge these individuals? You are not going to improve the lot of 99% by taking away from the 1%. Envy is hardly a base for sound policy. Instead of trying to figure out ways to cut up the pie why not try to work at making the pie bigger for all. That is what Mr. Hinckley proposes whether you realize it or not. BTW Mr. Hinckley is a job creator and thus a strong supporter of the middle class - can we same the same for you?

Comment #12 by Michael Byrnes on 2014 03 10

Mr. Bainsworth is one of those gullible folks who actually believes the "Occupy Wall Street," propaganda. The left has always needed a bogeyman. To Marx, Lenin and Stalin, it was the hated "bourgeoisie" or the "Kulaks," small farmers, mainly in the Ukraine, who had one too many chickens on the farm. That earned them a death sentence, or a one-way ticket to Siberia. To the modern left, the bogeyman is the 1%, the “rich,” or Wall Street, or anyone who believes in fiscal sanity.. The aim, of course, is to get uninformed voters to view the so-called "rich" as the source of all their, and the country's, ills, and to take their eyes off the real problem, which is out-of-control government spending.

According to data taken right off the IRS web site for tax year 2008, if you confiscated every dime from US taxpayers with returns that showed an adjusted gross income (AGI) of more than $1,000,000 (230,000 of them), you could keep the federal government operating for a grand total of 111 days. If we lowered the bar of confiscation to all those making more than $200,000 (4.75 million filers), we could fund the federal government for a total of 253 days. This, of course, leaves state and local governments without a share, and leaves the taxpayers with nothing to finance, or expand, new business or even their own households. As it is, the 3% of income earners making over $200,000 already contributed 52% of federal income tax revenues in 2008. So, by any reasonable calculation, they’re already paying more than their “fair share,” an amorphous concept at best which, to Obama, means more than they’re currently paying.

After that, the well would be dry, and Mr. Bainsworth and his ilk, including airheaded politicians like Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, would be back looking for new sources of revenue to finance the bloated government they cherish and that keeps them in power. Even Obama and Sheldon can, arguably, do basic arithmetic. There are a lot more potential votes that can be bought with the increased tax revenues than might be lost from those whose wealth is being confiscated. Thus, the political cost of raising taxes on the so-called “rich” pales next to the potential gains from those to whom they pander. But, eventually, they will have to direct their attentions to the middle class, having exhausted the low-lying fruit on the revenue tree.

Naturally, Obama supports further confiscation of wealth from any who hold it because his Marxist and redistributionist roots (via Frank Marshall Davis and his lifelong radical associations) demand it. As a slave to his ideology, he simply doesn't know any better. And besides, he can buy a lot of votes in the short run with all the dollars collected and hand the bill to those yet unborn—quite a racket for the unscrupulous. But the future of this country lives or dies on the backs of the middle class, not the rich, which is excessive spending. There simply aren't enough “rich” to make a difference. If spending continues unabated, and we fail to address the debt and entitlement crisis, middle class taxes will have to be raised from the current marginal rate 25% to 63%, or so, by 2080, that according to the CBO. That's just one lifetime--66 years. If we let things go that long, there will be NO future for our children and grandchildren. And this is just federal income taxes. It does not include state income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, and the host of other taxes that eat away at our financial security. They'll be paying far more to various levels of government than medieval serfs paid to their lords, which averaged about 25%).

The answer lies in addressing the problem as if the 1% did not exist, principally because their wealth cannot provide a solution and because it distracts us from the real problem. The only solution is limiting the size and scope of government to a sustainable level to those activities permitted under the U.S. Constitution, freezing government spending, then reducing it 1% per year for the next seven years as proposed by the “Penny Plan” (or something equivalent), and dealing seriously with the negative consequences of entitlements which will enrich those currently collecting, but leave future generations with nothing. If things continue on Obama’s path, the national debt will soon exceed $20 trillion and just the interest on that debt ($415 billion in 2013) will reach $1 trillion a year if interest rates return to their historic average. That $1 trillion will exceed current spending on defense, and be roughly equal to our total discretionary spending.

There is no better confirmation of Obama’s total incompetence and lack of leadership than his unwillingness to address these fundamental fiscal problems. This is not surprising for someone who never managed so much as a 7/11 and was then handed control of the world’s largest economy; or someone who spent the better part of his adult life as a “community organizer,” not teaching people how to fish, but how to STEAL other people’s fish. So, we have the two parties playing brinksmanship over attempts to attach some reasonable spending concessions to the request to raise the debt limit. In a rational world, both would be working to address the long-term problem. But, instead, we have Democrats playing like someone is trying to close their candy store, and Republicans caving so as not to be appear stingy. Sheldon “To the Manor Born” Whitehouse and his sidekick Jack Reed, nor surprisingly, played no positive role in the crisis because their party needs those free-flowing federal tax dollars to survive. After all, a vote-buying political party soon withers away without the financial wherewithal to buy those votes.

The path to fiscal recovery lies, in Rhode Island at least, in the defeat of Whitehouse and Jack Reed, and their replacement by two intelligent, common sense, fiscally responsible and honest politicians who are concerned about something more than their own reelection.

Comment #13 by Kendall Svengalis on 2014 03 10

Bainsworth--all he has is envy, hate, and the ability to parrot his master's talking points.

Comment #14 by Jimmy LaRouche on 2014 03 10

Great advice by Mr. Hinckley.

I surely wish we had him in the Senate instead of that insider-trading, tax-and-spending embarrassment Sheldon Whitehouse.

Comment #15 by Art West on 2014 03 10

I lived in Connecticut when there was no income tax. The state relied on lottery proceeds, and just about every shopping mall parking lot had booths that sold scratch tickets. There was almost always a line of cars. The cities were filthy, depressing, and crime ridden, but the towns were clean and immaculate with well funded public schools and gated communities. Maybe it's just me, but that ain't utopia. For business to thrive, it requires working infrastructure and that means there are bills to pay. Let's find ways to lower the bills,create a positive environment for business development, which will lower the taxes. I do agree that the current leadership in RI is very unlikely to do any of this.

School vouchers. Sure, under two conditions: public schools must remain properly funded, and vouchers cannot be used for any type of religious education.

Tort reform: I'm okay with capping monetary settlements, but not with limiting access to the courts. Sure, a lot of lawsuits are frivolous, but they also have a way of flushing secrets out into the open and keeping people on the up and up.

Estate tax: Raise the threshold, but don't lower the rate. Also, increase incentives for charitable donations. Let's keep money in circulation and start shifting the funding of social services from compulsory taxation to voluntary donation.

Comment #16 by John Onamas on 2014 03 10

Lots of good stuff in your comment, John. Particularly the point about shifting social services funding (which accounts for around 40% of our state budget) to voluntary donation. Then the social service industry "advocates" could put their money where their mouth is, and the state could become a less powerful magnet for folks locating here for the handouts and the folks truly in need could be helped.

Comment #17 by Art West on 2014 03 11




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