Stenhouse: RI budget not completely ‘pro-business’

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island lawmakers’ budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes several breaks for businesses, but some say a lot more needs to be done to improve the state’s corporate climate.

The budget unveiled Tuesday night is a revised version of the budget put forth by Gov. Gina Raimondo in March. The $8.67 billion tax-and-spending plan offers tax breaks for businesses and retirees while creating many of the economic development programs the governor wanted.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said the budget is “pro-business,” believing it will “serve as a catalyst for existing businesses as well as working to attract new businesses to the state of Rhode Island.”

Mike Stenhouse, who heads up the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, is often at odds with the state’s corner office. He says the ship is headed in the right direction, but he believes it needs to speed up.

“There are some pro-business elements, there are also some anti-business elements,” he said Wednesday. “We need broader reforms, deeper reforms because there are too many without jobs and too many people still leaving our state.”

The budget also repeals the sales tax on commercial energy, reduces the minimum corporate tax by $50 and a offers a break on Social Security benefits.

While it’s seen as a big win for Gov. Raimondo in her first year, two items she backed did not make it in – the so-called “Taylor Swift tax” on million-dollar second homes and tolls on large commercial trucks to fund infrastructure repairs.

“We’re pleased that the speaker excluded those two items from the budget, although we do suspect the trucker toll issue is going to come back,” Stenhouse added.

The full House is expected to take up the budget proposal on Tuesday.

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