April 2, 2020

Conley Legislation Proposed to Raise Revenue

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According to a press release from the Rhode Island Senate this morning, February 26, 2020, a newly formed coalition called Revenue for Rhode Island launched its campaign to raise revenue for the state by adding one new tax bracket for the top 1% of earners. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence and Pawtucket) and Rep. Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket), will add one new tax bracket, from 5.99% to 8.99% on adjusted gross income above $475,000. The legislation would raise $128.2 million in new tax revenue and would only impact the top 1% of tax filers.

“This legislation will give us the flexibility needed to properly fund vital programs and services for Rhode Islanders who need them most and invest in Rhode Island’s future while promoting a more efficient and equitable tax structure,” stated Senator Conley. “This is a reasonable proposal that asks the wealthiest among us to pay a small percentage more, while having no impact on anyone making less than $475,000 a year.”

“With Rhode Island once again facing a sizable budget deficit, it is imperative that our state raise revenues so that crucial and often life-saving programs and services remain available to Rhode Islanders in need. With this modest revenue proposal, our state will have the funds to properly support our citizens and our infrastructure, establishing Rhode Island on firm footing for future success,” said Representative Alzate.

“Our cities and towns are being asked to do more with less,” said East Providence Mayor Roberto DaSilva. “This additional revenue can prevent deep cuts to education, Medicare and city services and help ease the burden on local property taxpayers, who have funded state-wide cuts over the years. Asking the top 1% to give a little more is a sensible solution that will help all Rhode Island families.”

“It is very hard to support myself as a college student and at home with the low wages we make as caregivers for individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Seaniah Ballah, a Rhode Island College student and Direct Support Professional at The ARC of Blackstone Valley. “I have established meaningful relationships with my clients and I simply love the work that I do. And although I love supporting my clients at medical appointments, facilitating in-home activities or assisting them when we try out a new recipe for dinner, I do not know how long I can continue working a job that can also be very demanding on my body and mind, with such low pay.”

Ballah continued, “Our state's priorities are upside down when we give millionaires big tax breaks and don't invest in residents living with developmental disabilities and the direct support staff who care for them. Instead of calling on the most fortunate Rhode Islander’s to pay their fair share, politicians under-invest in Medicaid or even cut the program, which pays to care for adults with developmental disabilities. We need a more equitable path forward where multi-millionaires pay their fair share so that people like me and my coworkers – and the people we care for – get the support and services they need.”

RI AFL-CIO President George Nee stated, “For too long, lower and middle class families have paid a higher percentage of their income in overall taxes than the wealthiest Rhode Islanders. We have given big federal and state tax breaks for the wealthy – from the Bush federal tax cuts to Governor Carcieri’s state income tax cut to President Trump’s most recent tax cuts. In Rhode Island, when you factor in income tax, property tax and sales tax, the poorest Rhode Islanders pay 50% more as a percentage of income compared to the wealthiest 1%. This proposal would put the top 1% more in line with the next 79% of taxpayers.”

Nee concluded, “This bill will raise revenue that can be used for schools and public education, infrastructure improvements, increased state funding to cities and towns, funding for our Veterans Home, senior citizens, and individuals living with developmental disabilities. It’s time, as a state, that we recalibrate our priorities and make our budget work for all Rhode Islanders.”

Revenue for Rhode Island coalition members include the RI AFL-CIO, NEARI, RIFTHP, SEIU State Council, SEIU District 1199, Economic Progress Institute, RIASSE Local 580 SEIU, Coalition of Labor Union Women RI, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, Providence Central Federated Labor Council, RI Association for Infant Mental Health, RI Coalition for the Homeless, RI National Organization for Women, The Right from the Start Coalition, URI American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and the Women's Fund of RI.

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