Throughout the legislative session, the Economic Progress Institute tracks the budget and other bills being considered by the Rhode Island General Assembly affecting the economic well-being of low- and modest-income Rhode Islanders. We present policy information and data-based testimony to committees in the General Assembly.
2018 Legislative Testimony
Testimony on Governor’s Budget Article 13 and 14 (Medicaid)
The Protect Our Health care Coalition testified in the Senate Finance Committee in opposition to sections in Article 13 (co-payments for Medicaid) and 14 (Proposed rebalancing of long-term care) of the Governor’s budget. The Coalition is opposed to the requirement of copayments for vital health services because they will cause financial hardship and likely adverse health outcomes for over 150,000 adults, including parents, pregnant women, single adults and seniors who will be subject to these payments. As for the “rebalancing” of ling-term care, Rhode Island has a long-standing goal of “rebalancing” long-term care by making more investments in quality community based services that help people live at home. But at least two proposals in the proposed budget would be a step backward on the road to achieve this goal.
Testimony on Governor’s Budget Article 11 (Workforce)
The Institute’s Linda Katz delivered testimony on behalf of the RI Workforce Alliance on Article 11 of the Governor’s budget which would put the Governor’s Real Jobs Rhode Island Program into state law and proposed changes to the State Work Immersion Program. The Alliance suggests also added the Real pathways program into state law to ensure that the organization of the workforce development system around industry partnerships includes a commitment of resources and strategies to address the needs of lower-skilled adults.
Testimony on Governor’s Budget Article 12 (Economic Development)
The Institute submitted written testimony in opposition to sections of Article 12 of the Governor’s budget which would continue to expand the number and range of economic incentive tax credits and remove the sunset’s provisions to these tax incentives which are set to expire on December 31, 2018. The institute also supports the provision in the budget article that would require Commerce RI to assess the “performance, effectiveness, and economic impact of” most of the Governor’s economic development incentives but we have concerns about this report and the still due Tax Incentive Evaluation Act of 2013 report.
Testimony on Senate Bill 2244, 2247 (Minimum Wage)
The Institute supports Senate Bill 2244, which gradually increases the hourly minimum wage to $15.00/hour (in January 2022), and increases the tipped minimum wage to $15.00/hour (in January 2026), and Senate Bill 2247 increasing the minimum wage to $11.00 in 2019 and to $12.00 in 2020.
Testimony on Senate Bill 2476, 2244 (Tipped Minimum Wage)
The Institute supports Senate Bill 2476 to increase the tipped minimum wage from $3.89/hour to $9.00/hour on January 1, 2022 (and eliminate it entirely starting January 1, 2023) and the provisions in Senate Bill 2244 increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers from $3.89/hour to $15.00/hour on January 1, 2026).
Testimony on Budget Article 13, Sec, 1 and 3 (Copayments and RIte Share)
The Institute is opposed to the proposal to require low-income Medicaid beneficiaries to pay co-pays for certain services. The Institute also has objections to some of the proposed changes to the RIte Share program.
Testimony on Senate Bill 2270 (Foreclosure Mediation Act)
The Institute supports passage of Senate Bill 2270, which would remove the sunset provision on the Foreclosure Mediation Act. The General Assembly wisely enacted the Foreclosure Mediation Act in 2013 in response to the frightening number of foreclosures in our state during and post-recession to ensure that homeowners had the opportunity to keep their homes, if possible. Since passage of the Act, 70% of homeowners who participated in the mediation process were able to avoid foreclosure.