By Richard Asinof
Rachel Flum of the Economic Progress Institute shared her group’s view of budget priorities: a rising tide does not lift all boats; if the boat is filled with holes, a rising tide will sink it
PROVIDENCE – The Economic Progress Institute functions very much as the economic conscience of Rhode Island, particularly around policy, revenue and spending issues in the state budget, focused on representing the interests of so many who often do not have any voice in the deliberations on Smith Hill, including those Rhode Islanders who have fallen through the gaping holes in the porous safety net.
That focus has shifted a bit in recent years, following the steep economic downturn known as the Great Recession, to look more closely at the issue of employer-sponsored benefits and the growing gap between the kinds of benefits offered high-end workers but not accessible to lower-wage workers.
From generous health insurance packages to paid sick leave, from child care benefits to paid family leave, from fair scheduling to temporary caregiver insurance, these “benefits” have become, in so many ways, the dividing line between the ability to make it or not make it in Rhode Island, particularly as the economy shifts in its definitions around what it means to be an employer and an employee.