Friday, May 18, 2007

R.I. Budget Balancing

"I love Paris in the Springtime," or any other time. As a matter-of-fact, I wish that I were there again with my family. I'd like to find long-forgotten relatives n the Azores. I want a spiffy sports car. I've had it with beach seaweed. A pool - one with a slide - would do nicely. Unfortunately, bills must be paid. My son wants to go to college. We need health care coverage and taxes must be paid. The Governor and General Assembly have been handing out breaks to the wealthy but not so with middle- income taxpayers.However, the money tree in the back yard has limited production. Some travel dreams can be placed on hold and ditto for sports cars and pools. But I won't cut back on my 17 year old's future. Those "must haves" will continue to simmer on the back burner while $300 textbooks make it to the front burner (sigh). All this brings to mind the State's burgeoning budget deficit. The Assembly seemingly faces a dilemma this year in trying to balance the budget. I know that most legislators would like to preserve proven public programs like child care for working families and services for teens/young adults in DCYF care. The Governor's idea of ending State support for 18 year olds in State care just isn't right. Surviving on your own at 18 with no family? I wouldn’t do it to my son. I'll bet you wouldn't either if you had a choice.
Hard decisions must be made. But one decision that should be easy is restoring the capital gains tax – which is set to be eliminated this year as the result of a tax cut. If the state doesn’t restore the cut, we will lose more than $70 million in revenue over the next two years. This tax cut doesn’t promise any proven results in jobs or affordable housing or any other wider public benefit. The tax is on income from selling assets like stocks and bonds and is paid by wealthy Rhode Islanders and out-of-state folks –leaving everyone else to pay a greater share of the taxes. Meanwhile Massachusetts (who we were trying to imitate with this cut) has restored their tax at a rate of 5.3 percent! Restoring Rhode Island’s Capital Gains Tax to 5 percent would still have eligible taxpayers taxed less than in Massachusetts. The Governor and Legislature should not allow the Capital Gains Tax to be eliminated at the expense of young adults or kids. It’s just not worth their future (or mine). This is an easy one. Restore the child care and young adult services in this year’s budget. Pay for it by restoring the Capital Gains Tax.

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