A bill that would raise $66 million in new revenue by increasing income taxes for the richest Rhode Islanders is now in the hands of the General Assembly.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Maria Cimini and Senator Juan Pichardo, both of Providence, would increase the income tax rate on those who earn more than $250,000 a year from 5.99 percent to 7.99 percent.
The issue of tax equity in Rhode Island is a big one. The lowest income Rhode Islander’s contribute almost twice as much, per share, in state and local taxes, some 12 percent of the state’s revenue, while the top-tier earners pay under 9 percent.
Members of Rhode Islander’s for Tax Equity (RITE) surrounded Cimini and Pichardo as they spoke on behalf of the bill. In the group was Tom Sgouros, who prepared a memo for RITE outlining some $1.243 billion in foregone state revenue associated with tax cuts made in Rhode Island since 1997, most of which affected only the wealthiest among us.
But Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, who held a competing press event just before this one, came out against tax equity, saying the business community doesn’t support it.
Cimini told reporters that the state has to figure out a way to fund the basic level of public sector services and this accomplishes that.