Spotlight on the Statehouse: Feb. 13, 2014

Metro Editor
Thursday, February 13, 2014

The General Assembly had money on its mind this week, reviewing legislation to change funding for toll roads in the state, reform the tax code and require Political Action Committees to disclose more information.


Act on PACs

A proposed bill, introduced by Rep. John Edwards, D-Tiverton and Portsmouth, to reform PACs was heard before the House Judiciary Committee Feb. 11, according to a press release from the General Assembly. The legislation stipulates PACs must report any donations or expenses exceeding $100 paid on behalf of “the nomination, election or defeat” of a political candidate, according to the text of the bill.


Revenue restoration

Rep. Scott Guthrie, D-Coventry, introduced a bill to increase the state tax rate for residents making over $250,000 in annual income to approximately 8 percent, according to a press release from the General Assembly. Increasing the rate by two percentage points would bring in an additional $60 million each year, according to the release. “I applaud the state’s efforts over the past few years to make Rhode Island more attractive to business, but we have moved to a tax policy that ensures the super-rich get the benefits of government, while the rest of us pay a higher and higher bill,” Guthrie said. “We need a shift back to a more fair tax policy.”


Retiring retirees’ income tax

Legislation introduced by Rep. Joseph Trillo, R-Warwick, would abolish the personal income tax for retired Rhode Islanders in order to create an incentive for retirees to stay in Rhode Island, according to a General Assembly news release. Rhode Island ranked among the top 10 states with unfavorable tax codes, according to an assessment by business magazine Kiplinger. The state has a particularly high income tax rate in addition to its unusually stringent polices of taxing Social Security benefits and not offering income tax breaks for the retired.


Taking on the tolls

Sen. Louis DiPalma, D-Middletown, Newport, Little Compton,Tiverton, introduced legislation Feb. 11 to replace the toll booths on the Sakonnet River Bridge. Revenue from the booths would be replaced by capital from a new Infrastructure Trust Fund, according to a General Assembly press release. The new fund would draw revenue through 2020 from “a temporary 5 percent surcharge in Division of Motor Vehicle fees,” according to the press release. In subsequent years funding would come from the gas tax as well as savings from other areas of the budget, according to the press release. The bill would also create a department within the Department of Transportation specifically for the Bridge Authority and limit tolling to the Claiborne Pell Bridge. Rep. John Edwards, D-Tiverton, Portsmouth, introduced companion legislation in the House.

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