R.I. GOP, progressives criticize state’s approach

PROVIDENCE -- Coming from opposite ends of the spectrum, a progressive advocacy group on Thursday renewed its call for a hike in the top income tax rate paid by Rhode Island’s top earners, while the chairwoman of the state GOP slammed legislative leaders for approving $300 million in borrowing to pay the state’s bills.

The call for a hike in the top marginal rate paid by Rhode Island’s highest earners from 5.99% to 8.99% came from the Economic Progress Institute, which called the COVID-19 pandemic “both a public health crisis and an economic crisis” requiring legislative action.

The low-income advocacy group also also suggested lawmakers consider freezing or slowing significantly the motor vehicle excise tax phaseout, championed by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

As currently written, the phaseout “will cost additional general revenue of $22.3 million for FY2021 and then $50.1 million in FY2022, $84.9 million in FY2023, and $144.2 million in FY2024,″ the group said.

“Some may respond to the threat and reality of recession by calling upon all of us and upon our state government to tighten our belts and cut spending. We must resist such counterproductive policies,″ the advocacy group said...