Legislative Testimony

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.


2022 Testimony

Testimony on H-7283 (RI Early Educator Investment Act) 5/31/2022
The Institute, a steering committee member of the Right from the Start Campaign, strongly supports Representative Cortvriend’s bill H-7283, the “Rhode Island Early Educator Investment Act”, which directs the RI Children’s Cabinet to establish a target wage scale for early educators and to identify strategies for increasing compensation in child care, Early Intervention, RI Pre-K, and family home visiting. The bill also creates an early educator registry and invests $5 million to pilot a child care educator wage supplement.

Testimony on S-2062 (Earned Income Tax Credit) 5/19/2022
The Institute supports Senator Felag’s S2062 to raise the state credit from 15% to 18% of the federal one. Rhode Island’s EITC was last increased six years ago.

Testimony on H-7985 (Tax Credit for Economic Development) 5/17/2022
The Institute supports Representative Potter’s House Bill 7985 and her proposal to require companies benefitting from Rhode Island’s tax credit for economic development programs to pay their
construction workers according to prevailing industry wages.

Testimony on H-7440 (Tax Fairness) 5/17/2022
The Institute supports s Representative Alzate’s bill H7440 to create a new tax bracket for Rhode Island taxpayers in the top 1%. This would impact only approximately 5,000 taxpayers, those with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) above $500,000.

Testimony on S-2264 (Tax Fairness) 5/10/2022
The Institute supports s Senator Murray's bill S-2264 to create a new tax bracket for Rhode Island taxpayers in the top 1%. This would impact only approximately 5,000 taxpayers, those with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) above $500,000.

Testimony on H-7866 (Estate Tax) 5/5/2022
The Institute opposes House Bill 7866 which would eliminate Rhode Island’s already narrow Estate Tax, depriving the Treasury of much-needed revenues, while making our current inequitable tax structure even more inequitable.

Testimony on H-7534 (Payday Lending) 5/5/2022
The Institute supports Representative Barros’ bill which would eliminate the harms of deferred deposit transactions that drive the payday loan industry in Rhode Island.

Testimony on H-7865 (Capital Gains and Wealth) 5/3/2022
The Institute supports three proposals contained in Representative Ajello’s H7865 omnibus legislation which would:
• Add a 2% state tax surcharge on higher amounts of capital gains.
• Add a surcharge on fees paid to financial managers, to compensate for the (mis)classification of this income – basically payment for services rendered – as capital gains investment income instead of as normal wage or salary income.
• Add a property tax on second homes, ones not occupied by the owners as a primary
residence.

Testimony on H-7660 (Tax Exemptions) 5/3/2022
The Institute opposes H7128 which would create a sales tax holiday in mid-August, eroding state revenues needed for the critical investments used to build thriving
communities and a strong, vibrant economy. Despite the obvious appeal, sales tax holidays are
not good public policy
for personal income taxes.

Testimony on H-7128 (Sales Tax Holiday) 5/3/2022
The Institute opposes H-7128 which would increase from $15,000 to $50,000 the amount of pension, annuity, and social security income that would be exempt from
personal income taxes.

Testimony on H-7494 (Earned Income Tax Credit) 5/3/2022
The Institute supports Representative O’Brien’s H7494 to raise the state credit from 15% to 50% of the federal one. Rhode Island’s EITC was last increased six
years ago.

Testimony on H7380, H7647, and H7382 (Tax Exemptions) 4/28/2022
The Institute believes that the proposals in H7380, H7647, and H7382 to exempt certain military income from normal taxation make for poor tax policy. Tax rates ought to be based upon ability to pay not on personal status.

Testimony on H-7444 (Temporary Caregiver Insurance) 4/13/2022
The Institute writes in support of Representative Cassar’s bill H-7444 which would improve the Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) program by better meeting all caregiving responsibilities and the needs of all workers, especially those with lower incomes.

Testimony on H-7794 (TDI/TCI Employer Contributions) 4/13/2022
The Institute writes in support of Representative Giraldo’s bill H-7794 which would introduce economic equality into these programs by requiring employers to contribute to the TDI/TCI fund at an equal amount to their workers’ contributions.

Testimony on S-2760 (Motion Picture Tax Credit) 4/12/2022
The Institute opposes S2760, which would increase the amount of motion picture production tax credits available and also remove the program’s sunset date. We ask this committee to reject increasing the cap on a program that loses revenue for every dollar invested.

Testimony on H-7122 (Housing ARPA) 4/7/2022
The Institute writes in support of H-7123, Article 1 Section 16 appropriating $250M for affordable housing over the lifetime of the ARPA funds. However, we urge the Committee to increase the amount of ARPA funds devoted to affordable housing and to ensure that equity guides the investment of these funds.

Testimony on H-7717 (FMLA) 4/7/2022
The Institute writes in support of Representative Giraldo’s bill H-7717 which aims to update Rhode Island’s Parent and Family Medical Leave (PFML). The bill will ensure that a worker would be eligible to take 26 months of leave (state) in the first year and 12 months of federal leave in the 2nd year.

Testimony on H-7736 (Equity Impact Statements) 4/6/2022
The Institute strongly supports Representative Cassar’s bill H7736 which would require that a race, ethnicity, gender, and disability equity impact statement accompany most proposed legislation.

Testimony on Governor's FY 2023, FY 2022 Revised and Capital Budgets, RIDE Budget (Adult Education) 3/31/2022
The Institute urges the Committee to review the funding that is currently appropriated by RIDE for this system and to make additional state investments of general revenue and ARPA funds to ensure that the Adult Education system can meet the needs of Rhode Islanders and employers.

Testimony on S-2681 (Child Care is Essential Act) 3/30/2022
The Institute, a member of the Right from the Start Steering Committee, writes in strong support of Chair Cano’s bill, The Child Care is Essential bill, S-2681. This bill has six important pieces as described in the Right from the Start Fact Sheet. EPI's testimony focuses on three key parts related to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), although all are important: 1) increasing tiered quality rates for CCAP, 2) raising the family income limits to quality for CCAP and 3) eliminating the child support enforcement requirement for participation in CCAP.

Testimony on S-2245 (Temporary Caregiver Insurance) 3/30/2022
The Institute writes in support of Senator Lawson’s bill (S-2245) to make improvements to the Temporary Caregiver’s Insurance (TCI) program but urge the Committee to go even further and support a progressive wage replacement for low-wage workers..

Testimony on S-2235 (Rhode Island Early Educator Investment Act) 3/30/2022
The Institute, a steering committee member of the Right from the Start Campaign, strongly supports Senator Cano’s bill, the “Rhode Island Early Educator Investment Act”, which directs the RI Children’s Cabinet to establish a target wage scale for early educators and to identify strategies for increasing compensation in child care, Early Intervention, RI Pre-K and family home visiting. The bill also creates an early educator registry and invests $5 million to pilot a child care educator wage supplement.

Testimony on Governor's FY 2023, FY 2022 Revised and Capital Budgets, Department of Labor and Training (Temporary Disability Insurance) 3/30/2022
The Institute writes in support of the use of $19.4 million of the proposed FY2022 surplus to go to the Information Technology Investment Fund (ITIF) to replace the Department of Labor and Training’s legacy mainframe with modern systems for the Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program.

Testimony on H-7789 (RI Works) 3/29/2022
Institute supports H-7789 sponsored by Representative Art Handy. We thank Representative Handy and this Committee for your leadership last year in enacting an increase in the RI Works benefit for the first time in 30 years. That was an important step in improving economic well-being for families relying on the RI Works program. This year, we hope you will again enact changes that will lift children out of deep poverty by further increasing the benefit and keep children out of deep poverty by indexing the benefit to inflation.

Testimony on S-2166 (Payday Lending) 3/24/2022
The Institute supports Senator Quezada’s bill which would eliminate the harms of deferred deposit transactions that drive the payday loan industry in Rhode Island.

Testimony on S-2187 and Article 12, Sections 7 and 8 (Providing RIte Care Coverage to Children who are Undocumented) 3/22/2022
The Institute supports Senator Cano’s bill along with the Governor’s budget proposal, to use general revenue funds to provide RIte Care coverage for children who are undocumented.

Testimony on H-7593 (Cannabis Legalization) 3/22/2022
The Institute believes that if cannabis is legalized for adult recreational use, it ought to contain clear provisions advancing equity, including equitable access to the new market, particularly for individuals harmed by the war on drugs and the decades-long criminalization of cannabis. In this regard, H7593 falls short of what such legislation must contain.

Testimony on H-7765 (Minimum Wage) 3/16/2022
The Institute supports Representative Henries’ bill H7765 which would place Rhode Island on a path to a $19/hour minimum wage.

Testimony on H-7666 (Minimum Wage) 3/16/2022
The Protect Our HealthCare Coalition supports House Bills 7666 because it will improve affordability for Rhode Islanders battling rare or life-threatening disease whose well-being is dependent on specialty drugs.

Testimony on H-7348 (Tipped Minimum Wage) 3/15/2022
The Institute supports Representative Felix’s bill H7348 to raise and phase out the tipped minimum wage.

Testimony on S-2371 (Medical Marijuana Industry) 3/15/2022
The Institute opposes Senate Bill 2371 which would make it more difficult for individuals harmed by the decades-long criminalization of cannabis to take part in the legal medical marijuana market.

Testimony on S-2430 (Cannabis Legalization 3/15/2022
The Institute believes that if cannabis is legalized for adult recreational use, it ought to contain clear provisions advancing equity, including equitable access to the new market, particularly for individuals harmed by the war on drugs and the decades-long criminalization of cannabis. In this regard, S2430 falls short of what such legislation must contain.

Testimony on H-7123 (Affordable Housing) 3/9/2022
The Institute supports H-7123 and Article 1 Section 16 of the Governor’s proposed budget which appropriates $250M for affordable housing over the lifetime of the ARPA funds. However, we urge the Committee to both increase the amount of ARPA funds devoted to affordable housing and to ensure that equity guides the investment of these funds. Click here for testimony from the Protect Our Health Coalition in support of Article 1 Section 16 of the Governor’s proposed budget.

Testimony on H-7500 and H-7560 (Safeguard ACA Protections) 3/9/2022
The Protect Our HealthCare Coalition supports House Bills 7500 and 7560 and thanks Representatives Cassar and Speakman for their ongoing commitment to safeguard the ACA’s health insurance consumer rights and protections in Rhode Island state law.

Testimony on HB7385 and HB7123 Budget Article 1 Section 16 (Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund) 3/1/2022
The Institute believes that there are better investments to be made by the state besides replenishing RI’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Replenishing the funds would not be a targeted and strategic investment in Rhode Islanders and Rhode Island businesses, but rather a future tax cut that will mostly benefit the largest employers.

Testimony on Article 6 (Military Pensions) 2/15/2022
The Institute believes that the proposals, in Budget Article 6 of the Governor’s proposed budget, to make income from military pensions non-taxable, is bad tax policy. Click here to read the house testimony on the budget article.

Testimony on Article 9 (Sunset Dates) 2/16/2022
Sections 2 through 14 of Article 9 of HB7123, the Governor’s proposed budget, would extend the sunset dates of various tax incentive programs for economic development, from December 31, 2022, to December 31, 2023. If these extensions merely keep programs going without proper evaluation and oversight, then the Institute (EPI) would oppose the extensions. If, however, the one-year extensions are embraced as an opportunity for the General Assembly to assess these programs and determine which ones should continue and which ones should not, then EPI would support the extensions.

Testimony on S-2371 (Let RI Vote Act and Same Day Registration) 2/15/2022
The Institute strongly supports passage of S-2216, The “Let RI Vote Act” sponsored by Senator Euer and S-2216, Senator DiMario’s ‘Same-Day Registration’ resolution. Both proposals will improve Rhode Islanders’ access to voting.

Testimony on S-2371 (Court Fines and Fees) 2/10/2022
The Institute supports Representative Knight’s HB7084, HB7141, and HB7192 which would strengthen protections for individuals who cannot afford to pay court fines and fees and serve as a step in ending the criminalization of poverty

Testimony on H-7183 (Safeguard ACA Protections) 2/3/2022
The Protect Our HealthCare Coalition strongly supports House Bill 7183 and thanks Representative Kislak and her co-sponsors for bringing it forward again this year. This bill aligns Rhode Island law with the Affordable Care Act protection that assures that people will not suddenly lose health coverage if they have a particularly expensive health event.

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