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National Experts To Participate in Public Policy Debate at URI

Saturday, April 05, 2014

 

Senior fellow at Demos, and frequent analyst on MSNBC and NPR, Rich Benjamin

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity announced Friday that it will conduct a public policy debate on April 26 at the University of Rhode Island Kingston campus.

The event will be held at URI's Swan Hall beginning at 9:30 AM, and will feature nationally prominent policy experts who will discuss both the economic and moral implications of public policy in our state and across the nation.

The debate, entitled What's Really In Our Best Interest will feature:

  • Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation and frequent analyst on FOX News and CNN
  • Rich Benjamin, senior fellow at Demos, and frequent analyst on MSNBC and NPR
  • Don Watkins, fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, published in Forbes and USA Today
  • Tom Sgouros, local public policy expert and writer for RI Future and a former GoLocalProv MINDSETTER™

 

The debate is presented in association with the 2014 RI Student Political Empowerment Conference, an annual non-partisan gathering of area college student to discuss public policy issues and advocacy, as part of the weekend's agenda. GoLocalProv.com will serve as the official media partner of the debate and will soon name the moderator.

Free-wheeling forum

The debate is structured to be a free-wheeling forum where widely divergent public policy approaches will be aired with the goal of analyzing which approach actually helps people the most. The first debate segment will deal with economic philosophies as they pertains to issues currently under consideration in the Ocean State, such as the minimum wage and sales tax or other tax reforms. The second segment will deal with the moral questions surrounding public policy about whether or not individuals are responsible for the well-being of others and whether some public assistance programs are culturally divisive.

Each professional debate panelist will debate side-by-side with an area college student or recent graduate to form four teams of two debaters; two teams in each debate segment.

The debate will be free to the public, with registration expected to open in the coming week. A live, streaming webcast of the debate is also being planned. 

 

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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