URI students lobbied state legislators last night at the State House on the Miller-Cimini tax equity bill that would raise income taxes on Rhode Island’s richest residents. And the bill might just be gaining traction.
I asked Speaker Gordon Fox about its chances for passage after the session.
“I’m not going to say yes no or anything at this point,” he said.
Really? When last I asked the speaker about tax equity legislation earlier this month he gave me a pretty unequivocal no, saying, “At this point I’m closing the door on doing anything with income tax until we have a little more historical evidence about what’s going with the reforms we did a few years ago.”
Does that mean the tides are turning for the bill that would raise the top income tax bracket back up to 9.9 percent? Fox cautioned me not to draw that conclusion. “Don’t read into my remarks,” he said. “At this point, that is my standard.”
He also mentioned the $130 million deficit the state faces this budget season. The bill is estimated to raise an additional $118 million in revenue.
Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate is rising again for the first time in eight months. The Miller-Cimini tax equity bill offers an incentive to affluent job creators: for every one percentage point the unemployment rate goes down so would the tax rate for those making more than $250,000 annually until they both fall to 5.9 percent.
And if Fox and the rest of the General Assembly is looking for other new sources of revenue for the state, they may want to reconsider marriage equality. It turns out, according to a new report, that letting gay couples enjoy the same rights as others would mean an additional million dollars in tax revenue.