Raimondo continues push for ‘sustainable’ car tax reduction

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — “Let’s face it: the car tax stinks and it needs to be cut.”

That was Gov. Gina Raimondo, speaking in a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday. Both she and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello believe the state’s car tax is an unfair burden on residents, but they disagree on what to do about it.

After they return from April break on Monday, legislators will take up Raimondo’s proposed budget in hopes of putting their stamp on it before summer.

As it stands, Raimondo’s budget cuts everyone’s car tax by at least 30 percent. The governor says the reduction is “sustainable and affordable,” costing the state about $60 million, while providing much-needed relief to taxpayers.

Mattiello, on the other hand, has vowed to completely eliminate the car tax within the next five years, at a cost of $220 million.

Larry Berman, a spokesperson for Mattiello, released a statement Thursday saying the speaker is dedicated to reaching that goal.

“Speaker Mattiello is committed to eliminating the car tax completely within five years. The state budget that is passed by the House this spring will include immediate relief for the taxpayers from the onerous car tax.”

A recent poll conducted by Brown University found Rhode Islanders support both proposals: 72 percent for Raimondo’s plan and 52 percent for Mattiello’s.

Raimondo says her plan also leaves room for her proposal to provide two years of free college tuition at the state’s public colleges.

“Middle class families need relief,” she says in the video. “They need a car tax cut and they need college to be more affordable.”

State revenue has been trending downward this year, so it’s unknown at this time what exactly Smith Hill can afford. To find out, it was announced Thursday that there will be a conference next month to uncover what the revenue will be, with the final number expected to be released on May 10.