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The budget I present to you tonight contains no increase in taxes, fees, or charges of any kind.
Not only are there no tax or fee increases, I also propose lowering our corporate tax from 9.0 percent to 7.0 percent over the next three years. This will put Rhode Island’s rate below that of both our neighboring states.
In this budget, I have once again provided the resources to fully fund the state’s school aid formula, including all categorical aid programs. This year, that amounts to $30.3 million in additional state education aid. I have also allocated over $14 million to support repairs at the state’s vocational education facilities.
in an effort to ensure that there is no tuition increase next year at the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, or the University of Rhode Island, I propose an increase of $6 million for higher education.
Rhode Island employers looking to hire or expand need to have confidence that there will be qualified candidates to fill available positions. Therefore, I propose $3 million in new state support for workforce development initiatives.
I have included a proposal to advance over $11 million in pay-as-you-go funding for already approved projects that can start immediately. This is a smart opportunity to get the trades back to work as soon as possible and improve the condition of our infrastructure.
I also want to accelerate the economic activity in Providence’s Knowledge District. To that end, I propose an additional $500,000 to enhance the operations of the 195 Redevelopment Commission.
To ensure that tourism and hospitality remain a strong sector of our economy and that we continue attracting visitors to Rhode Island, I recommend bolstering the state’s tourism marketing efforts with an additional $600,000.
While everyone likes to talk about onerous tax rates at the state level, the property tax is the real major barrier to economic growth – particularly on small businesses. On top of the $41 million in local aid contained in my previous two budgets, this year I recommend an additional $30 million for property tax relief.
To further help our cities and towns, I also propose modifying the historic tax credit program by providing access to abandoned tax credits.
While respecting the rights of hunters and responsible gun owners, we could – and should – do more to prevent senseless acts of violence. That is why, in the current General Assembly session, I will join with the leaders of the House and Senate to craft, introduce, and pass legislation that makes Rhode Island a safer place both for us and our children.
For our economic development, for civil rights, and for basic fairness, we must extend the rights and benefits of marriage to all Rhode Islanders. Let’s come together to pass marriage equality.
I submit this budget to the General Assembly on January 16th – on time and the earliest that a Governor has done so in over two decades.
My hope is that you all will be skeptical and wary of deviating from the steady, methodical construction of a Rhode Island economy built for today and for the future.
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Moving Rhode Island Forward