While Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed may have tried to focus some of the attention away from marriage equality with a press conference on the economy yesterday, the real news will happen tonight when Gov. Linc Chafee gives the annual State of the State speech.
In it, he will outline his proposal for next year’s budget and thus likely frame the fiscal debate for the month’s to come.
Will Chafee again suggest lowering sales taxes across the board while broadening the base? This hasn’t been popular with some small business owners or legislative leadership in past years. Or will he pick up on the idea progressives have been pushing for and reverse the Carcieri-era tax breaks to the wealthy? This idea should be popular with small business owners, and it’s gaining traction with leadership too. Ted Nesi reports this morning that Teresa Paiva Weed is still open to including tax equity measures in this year’s budget.
Perhaps the governor will suggest a some of both?
Paiva Weed’s report with RIPEC suggests our high unemployment rate is the biggest drag on the state’s economy. The governor last year cut funding to this vital and struggling 10 percent of the state’s workforce. I’m hoping there will be a number of policy suggestions to reverse Rhode Island’s trend of being pulled down by our poor.
To that end, I’m also hoping Chafee will declare 2013 the sequel to the year of cities and towns. Last year, he pledged to help our poorest cities which have been decimated by state aid cuts and tax and spending policies that benefit the suburban class over inner city folk. But in offering the poorest communities relief from labor laws, he tried to do so in a way that would have hurt the same working class people he was hoping to help.
A better way of addressing this issue would be to reexamine the state’s education funding formula, which still doesn’t adequately address the urban/suburban inequity that exists in the Ocean State.
What are you hoping the governor addresses tonight? Let Rhode Island know in the comments below…