Business leaders praise lawmakers’ budget

(Photo: generic downtown Providence)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island lawmakers unveiled their budget proposal Thursday night, and it’s drawing varied opinions from around the state.

The plan includes the $12.5 million needed to cover the next payment to 38 Studios bond holders, while removing tolls from the Sakonnet River Bridge.

Rhode Island’s business community is excited about the budget, in part because it aims to reduce the corporate tax rate from 9% to 7%.

“Reducing the corporate tax will keep business in Rhode Island and bring more business to Rhode Island,” said Kathryn Prael Dunkelman from the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. “It makes us more competitive with the states around us in the region and nationally, and in doing that we will create jobs for everyday Rhode Islanders.”

The Chamber also praised lawmakers for the proposed cuts to estate taxes and the plan to invest in the state’s nursing and engineering schools.

On the other hand, Mike Stenhouse from the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity said the state’s middle class will have to pay for those corporate tax cuts in the form of an increased gas tax and increased vehicle registration fees.

“The corporate tax cut will have a minimal long term effect of slightly improving overall business climate,” he said. “To us, this budget demonstrates the problem we have in this state. While we might give a tax break to some, we charge somebody else for it. That’s like taking one step forward, one step back, and that’s why we never seem to get anywhere here in Rhode Island.”

Under the proposed budget, the gas tax would be increased by one penny starting in July of 2015, and vehicle registration fees would go from $39 to $55 next month.

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