Prosperity Agenda for Rhode Island
Imagine route I-95 as freeway where human and capital resources start flowing into our state instead of out. Imagine Rhode Island as the most dramatic turnaround state in the USA, with restored economic competitiveness and renewed pride for our citizens. Imagine a reinvigorated economy, new jobs, a world-class educational system, and a return to statewide prosperity.
Unleashing Rhode Island by Tearing Down the Barriers to Success
Rhode Island’s jobs outlook is uniquely dismal in the nation. Further, our state’s failing Report Card demonstrates that a bold, new policy path must be blazed, one that leads us to renewed opportunity and economic growth. In order to enhance the Ocean State’s business climate and to become more competitive with our regional and national neighbors, we must exit from our current public policy direction.
A handful of major policy reforms and numerous other policy reforms can provide a catalyst for systemic change. For too long, policymakers have focused on providing more government services for more people, attempting to present a balanced budget, but in the end, unwittingly creating even more barriers to economic prosperity. Instead a new public policy course should focus on economic growth and enhancing our capacity to attract and maintain people, investment capital, and businesses.
The recommendations below are merely a starting point. There are dozens of other reforms that are also needed. Over the coming months and years, our Center will add new policy recommendations to this Prosperity Agenda.
High-Impact Policy Reforms:
Among the handful of ”game changing” reforms that would result significant near-term gains for the Ocean State, our Center recommends that Rhode Island:
1) Eliminate the State Sales Tax: the centerpiece of our Prosperity Agenda; would create over 20,000 new jobs.
2) Establish RI as a “Right to Work” state: would provide increased worker freedom and would be a major competitive advantage in attracting new businesses to our state.
3) Implement Market-based reforms within Obamacare and Health Insurance Exchange Laws: As Rhode Island and the nation move forward with implementation of the Affordable Care Act, significant challenges remain regarding access to affordable, quality care while many other issues will be left un-addressed … solution? A Health Care Freedom Act.
(click on an item above or below to learn more)
Other Policy Reforms
Rhode Island also suffers from “death by a thousand cuts” syndrome, where dozens upon dozens of laws create barriers to economic growth in our state. Tearing down some of the barriers suggested below are a good start:
4) Bright Today Educational Reforms: would increase the educational opportunities and freedom of Rhode Island’s students, especially the disadvantaged.
- School Voucher program: would provide special-needs students with a scholarship to attend the school of their choice.
- Real Grading of Schools: would grade all public schools in straightforward, universally understood method: A, B, C, D, F.
5) Eliminate Corporate Welfare: would reduce cronyism and corruption, maintain a level playing field, and defund the EDC’s capacity to risk taxpayer dollars on private sector businesses.
6) Implement Tort Reform: would include medical malpractice reforms and a criminal intent provision that protects the innocent.
7) Repeal the Estate Tax: would help keep more wealthy taxpayers in our state, expanding our tax base.
8 ) Lower the Minimum Wage to the Federal Level: would create more jobs, especially for teens, and would reduce the cost of doing business in Rhode Island for many businesses.
9) Reduce Occupational Licensing Mandates: includes five ideas that would open career opportunities and reduce the costs of services without sacrificing consumer safety.
10) Reform or Repeal Renewable Energy Mandates: would reduce cost of energy for households and businesses, now artificially raised by unreasonable green energy portfolio mandates.
11) Require “Truth in Pension Accounting”: would require municipal and state governments to utilize more realistic accounting assumptions in evaluating and reporting pension liabilities.
12) Enact Collective Bargaining Reforms for Public Employees: would encourage public versus private sector compensation parity, limit the scope of labor contracts, and reduce monopolistic negotiating advantages, potentially saving over $250 million per year for Rhode Island.
PODCAST: 790AM 9-6-12 Stenhouse Podcast ; Mike Stenhouse discusses the PROSPERITY AGENDA on “Positively RI”
PODCAST: ALEC’S Jonathan Williams discusses with Dan Yorke on 630 WPRO
Media Release Text
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; September 5, 2012
A Prosperity Agenda for Rhode Island
Tearing Down the Barriers to Success
With a vision of Interstate 95 jammed with human and capital resources returning to the Ocean State, and as a follow-up to its report yesterday that Rhode Island is suffering from the most dire jobs outlook in the nation, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity published today a Prosperity Agenda for Rhode Island, a set of pro-growth reforms in twelve critical policy areas designed to put the state back on a road to success.
“While our political leaders remain silent about the jobs crisis we face here in Rhode Island, our Center is suggesting proactive, well-researched solutions to move our state forward,” said Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. “Other states are aggressively reforming public policy to allow for more opportunities for their citizens, and we must learn from their example in order to keep pace.”
In seeking to provide families with more security about their future finances, the Center’s Prosperity Agenda would eliminate many government created ‘barriers to success,’ putting forth policy recommendations in three general areas: spending reforms to reduce the scope of government and related corruption; tax reforms to spur economic growth; and regulatory reforms to free up individuals to be able to work and learn more freely and to unleash businesses to innovate and produce. With these reforms, tens of thousands of new jobs can be created in Rhode Island, according to the Center.
“It is important that citizens and policymakers understand that there are indeed steps we can take to improve our lot. That there are positive solutions to our state’s problems. That most of these solutions have been successful in other states. And that someone is actually looking out for you. These solutions are pro-business, pro-worker, pro-education, and pro-taxpayer ,”added Stenhouse.
The Prosperity Agenda is comprised of both high-impact, game-changing reforms as well as other policies to reverse what the Center refers to as ‘death by a thousand cuts syndrome.’ In virtually all cases, the reforms roll back existing laws that restrict economic or educational freedoms for individuals and businesses.
The high-impact reforms suggested are: elimination of the state sales tax, establishment of RI as a right-to-work state, and replacement of federally controlled health insurance exchanges with a Healthcare Freedom Act.
Other reforms are also put forth in the areas of education, corporate welfare, tort reform, the estate tax, occupational licensing, the minimum wage, renewable energy mandates, truth in pension accounting, and the collective bargaining process.
All policy reform recommendations are supported by policy briefs or detailed research published over the past year by the Center or to be released in the coming months.
The Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, a non-partisan public policy think tank, is the state’s leading free-enterprise advocacy organization. With a credo that freedom is indispensable to citizens’ well-being and prosperity, the Center’s mission is to stimulate a rigorous exchange of ideas with the goal of restoring competitiveness to Rhode Island through the advancement of market-based reform solutions.