October 24, 2007

Brewster: Raise Taxes, Don't Cut the Budget

Marc Comtois

Poverty Institute Executive Director Kate Brewster says the solution to the budget crunch is higher taxes, not cutting the budget:

• Restore the tax on long-term capital gains and freeze the “alternative flat tax,” both of which primarily benefit a handful of very wealthy taxpayers, many of whom are not even Rhode Island residents. There is no evidence that either of these provisions have grown jobs or revenues in our state. These two measures together could recapture close to $50 million.

• Conduct a careful review of the costly tax breaks, exemptions and credits that have been granted over the years and apply the “prove it or lose it” test to determine if they have achieved their purpose, are cost effective and/or affordable. Eliminate those tax expenditures that fail this test.

• Expand the sales tax to keep pace as the economy shifts from goods-based to service-based.

Well, she's been consistent. The first two items can be placed squarely in the "class warfare" pile. You know, the rich don't pay enough, etc. Heard that one before.

But the last one will hit all Rhode Islanders, not just "the rich." The expansion of the sales tax Brewster is talking about could mean taxing services--doctor visits, legal services, tree cutters, landscapers, etc. That's what she means by "keeping pace" with a "service-based" economy. Oh, I'm sure there will be some promises that "essential" services won't be taxed....for now. But once the toe is in the door, and the budget continues to crunch, we can be sure that somebody will look for more "innovative" ways to raise, ahem, "revenue."

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Someone could suggest we use the "prove it or lose it" test on RI's social services, but I'm sure there's a reason why that's a bad idea.

Posted by: Mario at October 24, 2007 4:41 PM

Well, isn't she just a lovely person! Sounds to me like she's planning her on-the-job longevity with these proposals!

Let me see, I'm NOT, but if I were one of "a handful of very wealthy taxpayers" that was expected to pick up the tab so that the state "could recapture close to $50 million" I know I would pull everything I owned in this state out and be GONE! Heck, it's getting to the point if you have ANYTHING it might be a good idea.

Mario, you are right on the money with the "prove it or lose it" idea but we all know that will never happen.

Posted by: Jake4RI at October 24, 2007 6:00 PM

Raise the taxes and business; people will come to the Ocean State because it’s a beautiful state with great access to water and clean beaches, fishing industry, Yankee history, higher learning, ethnic neighborhoods, cultural diversity, great roads and bridges, above average hospitals, state-wide commuter transportation infrastructure and the capitol city has “Water Fire” and the “Iway” plus there is always Newport or Warwick or South County or Blackstone Valley and all the other tourist offices to explore for a 90 min by 45 min drive to cover the state. Little Rhody is a national destination! Just ask the mayor of Providence and any politician on Smith Hill!

I just don’t understand why Forbes Magazine “2007 Best Cities For Jobs” would rank Providence metro center down from 53 to 77 out of 100 metro centers.

Link: http://www.forbes.com/home/2007/02/15/best-cities-jobs-leadership-careers_cx_hc_0216cityjobs_table.html

Why the Milken Institute “2007 Best Performing Cities“ would rank Providence metro center down from 75 to 150 out of 200 metro centers.

Or why the Milken Institute “An Unhealthy America: The Economic Impact of Chronic Disease,” would rank State of Rhode Island number 44 out of 50 in the bottom 10 for being a healthy state.

Link: http://www.milkeninstitute.org/

And the Tax Foundation “State Business Tax Climate Index Rankings 2008” would rank Rhode Island dead last 50 out of 50 states.

Link: http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/sbtci_rankings-20071010.pdf

Then there is CNN Money “2007 Tax-Friendly Cities” that ranks Providence, RI as the third least tax friendly city.

Link: http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/pf/0704/gallery.tax_friendliest/2.html

And AAA “2007 State Vacation Costs” which ranks Rhode Island as the third highest vacation cost state out of 51 (including DC) at $345 a day four a family of four (2 adults & 2 children).

Link: http://www.aaanewsroom.net/Main/Default.asp?CategoryID=8&ArticleID=545

Raise the taxes and everyone will work harder to pay them so the spending can continue across the board! We have to keep setting benchmarks for other states in the nation to follow regardless who’s in elected office!

Posted by: Ken at October 24, 2007 10:51 PM

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for La Kate, Princess of Poverty, to respond to Ken...

I'm also wondering how many of the enormous number of not-for-profits that have been surviving (and funding not a few East Side "lifestyles") thanks to generous state funding are dreading the Governor's budget cutbacks. Time will tell.

Posted by: John at October 24, 2007 11:05 PM

From the OpEd:

"Slashing funding for critical public systems and services while not addressing our antiquated revenue system will undermine the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders."

Antiquated revenue system? Undermine the quality of whose life?

"We have supported the necessary public-sector institutions that protect all of us from unforeseeable and uncontrollable events that can result in financial and/or physical harm: a plant closing that requires workers to be retrained or a car accident that leaves a spouse permanently disabled.

From public safety to enforcing standards for clean air, food and water, to providing long-term care for seniors, we have always understood that government must be a leader, ..."

So this should be the exent of social programs? Let's implement it right away. And we can save a lot of time and effort "looking" for additional "revenue". 'Cause it won't be needed.

Posted by: Monique at October 24, 2007 11:18 PM

To be fair, even the current GA leadership has nothing but contempt for the Communist/progressive/socialist "activists" like Brewster. They listen to them with mock sincerity and out of site roll their eyes, snicker and call them "true belivers". I have experienced this first-hand.
Can't wait till the $50 million welfare cuts are announced in the January budget. The Democrats will scream and yelp along with the "activists"-then go along with 80% + of them. They will tearfully apologize for it being "a tough, tough year" while internally smirking at the "true believers".

Posted by: Mike at October 25, 2007 9:26 AM

And the "True Believers" are going to come up against a two-pronged assault next session. Both conservatives and union supporters will be going after the 'poverty pimps' and their budgets as legislators begin to realize that there's just no more money to be bled out of the taxpayers and maybe, just maybe, we as a state should cater to people that ADD to the collective instead of those that just leech off of it.

Posted by: Greg at October 25, 2007 11:58 AM

It goes to show that conservatives and people like Montalbano are part of the same power structure. Montalbano feeds out of both the union and business troughs.
Progressives must overthrow Montalbano (and maybe Murphy, too) ASAP. Call 'em Napoleon and Squealer.

Posted by: rhody at October 25, 2007 1:45 PM

Conservatives and guys like Montalbano are definitely alike in at least one way.

Both acknowledge that seventy five years of progressive politics is what has put this state in the disaster that it's in now.

Who do you pander to if you're a Dem? The unions, who have thousands of VOTING members or the poverty pimps who hand out money to illegal aliens who can't legally vote?

Keep in mind that there isn't enough money anymore to pander to both.

Posted by: Greg at October 25, 2007 1:54 PM

Myself, I'd rather see conservatives and progressives stand together to banish corrupt powerbroking thugs like Montalbano. We can talk budget later.

Posted by: rhody at October 25, 2007 2:39 PM

You'll have to separate the progressives from the union thugs that prop them up first.

Posted by: Greg at October 25, 2007 2:55 PM

There's nothing progressive about Montalbano (except maybe his sense of entitlement). He's simultaneously a union thug and a corporate thug.
Progressives know better than to expect anything from he and Murphy. M&M have taken progressive support for granted for too long - if it takes supporting a Republican to get those two Carcieri enablers out of the Assembly, progressives should at least think about it.

Posted by: rhody at October 26, 2007 1:41 AM

Murphy and Montalbano didn't rise to power via a military coup. They were put in place BY THE PROGRESSIVES because they deliver for the unions. Progressives will support Satan himself if they think it will forward their cause one inch.

Why do you think Democrats are the party of the envirowackos AND the people that are helping to 'destroy it' (UAW)? Because liberals (I hate the term progressive. It's such a lie. Just call them communists.) will ally themselves with anybody that could potentially help them move their anti-American, anti-capitalist causes forward.

Posted by: Greg at October 26, 2007 7:44 AM

Montalbano and Murphy don't deliver for anyone but themselves (and their fat cat pals in union leadership and corporations), and progressives are beginning to wake up.
Notice that Murphy (and AFSCME, and Bill Lynch) couldn't deliver in the House District 22 primary Tuesday?

Posted by: rhody at October 26, 2007 11:01 AM

Progressives should be waking up to the realization that the ideals that they espouse simply don't work and won't work. I've never seen a single problem that government has EVER fixed by throwing money at it. None. Zero.

Posted by: Greg at October 26, 2007 11:36 AM
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