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.


2020 Testimony

Testimony on House Bill 7247 (Motion Picture Tax Credit)
[January 28, 2020] The Institute supports the creation of good jobs for Rhode Islanders and encouraging economic development in those communities most in need of such development. Given this context, the Institute has significant concerns with H-7247, which would allow the director of the Film & Television Office to waive the current requirement that productions must have Rhode Island serve as their primary location.

Testimony on Senate Bill 2147 (Minimum Wage)
[January 29, 2020] The Institute supports legislation raising the minimum wage – ideally to $15/hour – as quickly as possible. Three reasons why we need a $15/hr minimum wage is: to help our workers, to help retain our workforce, and to provide an economic boost to our Rhode Island economy.

Testimony on Senate Bill 2124 (Doula Services)
[February 4, 2020] The Institute supports passage of S-2124, which would require the Medicaid program and other health insurers to cover perinatal doula services. Long standing racial and ethnic disparities persist in maternal and child health outcomes in Rhode Island. Reducing disparities, improving birth outcomes and reducing state costs is a win-win-win for our residents and the state.

Testimony on House Bill 7157 (Minimum Wage)
[February 5, 2020] The Institute supports legislation raising the minimum wage – ideally to $15/hour – as quickly as possible. Three reasons why we need a $15/hr minimum wage is to: help our workers, to help retain our workforce, and to provide an economic boost to our Rhode Island economy.

Testimony on Budget Article 11 (Wavemaker Fellowship)
[February 26, 2020] Article 10, Section 9 extends the sunset date for the Wavemaker fellowship program from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2023 and Article 11 similarly extends the sunset dates for eleven tax credit/incentive programs administered by the Commerce Corporation. 

Testimony on Budget Article 9 (Motor Vehicle Excise Tax)
[February 27, 2020] Article 9 of the Governor’s proposed FY2021 budget includes a provision to slow the phase-out of the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax, or “car tax.” We support this proposal, which raises the opportunity to review whether phase out of the car tax is good public policy. 

Testimony on House Bill 7429 (Child Support)
[March 4, 2020] The Institute supports Representative Williams’ bill H7429 to eliminate interest on past-due child support payments, as 20 other states have done. 

Testimony on Budget Article 10 and 5, Question 3 section d (Child Care and Pre-K)
[March 4, 2020] The Institute supports the articles in the Governor’s Proposed FY2021 Budget which invest in early childhood education, including Article 10 which expands access to publically funded pre-k and Article 5 which proposes a $15 million general obligation bond to finance capital projects for child care facilities.

Testimony on Senate Bill 7466 (Minimum Wage)
[March 4, 2020] The Institute supports Representative Walsh’s bill H7466 and raising the tipped minimum wage. Rhode Island’s current sub-minimum tipped wage or “cash” wage is $3.89/hour and was last increased in 2017. Bill S7466 would increase this amount by 50 cents annually until it reaches 2/3 the value of the regular minimum wage and keep it proportional going forward.

Testimony on House Bill 7570 (Minimum Wage)
[March 4, 2020] The Institute supports Representative Ranglin-Vassell’s bill H7570 to place Rhode Island on the path to a $15/hour minimum wage and to phase out the tipped minimum wage, as well.

Testimony on Budget Article 14 section 5 (Doula Services)
[March 10, 2020] The Institute strongly supports including Doula services as a required Medicaid service.

Testimony on Budget Article 14 (RIte Share)
[March 10, 2020] The Protect Our Health Care Coalition supports large employer reporting requirements intended to help maximize RIteShare enrollment as recommended in the Governor’s budget.

House Testimony on Budget Article 14 sections 1 and 5c (Medicaid Copays)
[March 10, 2020] The Protect Our Health Care Coalition opposes Budget Article 14 Sections 1 and 5c because Medicaid copays pose a very real barrier to care that will negatively impact health outcomes and are a bad deal for the state and the healthcare system that serves us all.

Testimony on House Bill 7881 (RI Works)
[March 11, 2020] The Institute writes in support of H-7881, amending the RI Works statute to strengthen engagement of parents in their employment-readiness plans. The proposed change would require a parent applying for RI Works cash assistance to sign her employment plan soon after receipt of cash assistance starts instead of prior to authorization of the benefit payment. 

Testimony on Senate Bill 2143 (Minimum Wage)
[March 11, 2020] The Institute supports Senator Quezada’s bill S2143 which would raise and phase out the tipped minimum wage, as well as put Rhode Island on a path to a $15/hour minimum wage. Rhode Island’s current sub-minimum tipped wage or “cash” wage is $3.89/hour and was last increased in 2017. 

Testimony on Senate Bill 2406 (Minimum Wage)
[March 11, 2020] The Institute believes that the General Assembly and the public already possess adequate information to increase the minimum wage, and we believe Rhode Island ought to get on a path to a $15/hour minimum wage to match our neighbors in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Testimony on Budget Articles 5 and 12 (Housing)
[March 12, 2020] The Institute writes in support of these proposals that would provide $25 million to increase construction and redevelopment of affordable homes, and create a dedicated funding stream to increase the supply of affordable safe and healthy homes.

Testimony on Senate Bill 191 (Payday Lending)
[April 9, 2020] The Institute supports Senator Metts’ bill SB191, which eliminates the deferred deposit transactions that drive the payday loan industry in Rhode Island.

Testimony on House Bill 7624 (Nursing Home Staff and Quality Care)
[June 8, 2020] The Institute supports H7624 which addresses critical issues that are necessary to ensure that seniors who need the 24-7 care provided by nursing facilities are able to live safely in those environments. Establishing minimum staffing standards is important to ensuring that residents receive the quality care that they deserve.

Testimony on Senate Bill 2519 (Nursing Home Staff and Quality Care)
[June 13, 2020] The Institute supports S-2519 which addresses critical issues that are necessary to ensure that seniors who need the 24-7 care provided by nursing facilities are able to live safely in those environments. Establishing minimum staffing standards is important to ensuring that residents receive the quality care that they deserve.

Testimony on Budget Article 12 (Housing)
[July 7, 2020] The Institute writes in strong support of Budget Article 12 (Section 5). This proposal would create a dedicated funding stream to increase the supply of safe and healthy homes for Rhode Islanders. As an organization committed to achieving economic security for Rhode Islanders, we are acutely aware of how important affordable housing is to that goal.

Testimony on Article 11 (Economic Development)
[July 7, 2020] The Institute writes in opposition to Article 11, extends from December 31, 2020 to December 31, 2023 the sunset dates for eleven tax credit/incentive programs administered by the Commerce Corporation. The Article also raises the cap on the Rebuild RI program from $210 million to $250 million. Any such expansion ought to be paused until issuance of the expected Office of Revenue Analysis report and a public hearing on this report.

Testimony in Support of Budget Article 15, Sections 7 and 8 (RI Works)
[July 28, 2020] The Raising RI Coalition facilitated by the Institute, writes in support of the two changes to the RI Works Program included in the Governor’s proposed budget and asks the Senate Finance Committee to consider two other changes to the program.

Testimony on House Bill 8119 and 8120 (Rainy Day Fund)
[July 29, 2020] The Institute makes the argument that now is not the appropriate time for the State to begin setting aside additional General Revenue funds for the state’s Budget Reserve and Cash Stabilization Account, also known as the "Rainy Day Fund." So long as the current COVID-19 crisis continues and until there is substantial economic recovery and increased state revenue, Rhode Island should not increase the monies set aside for the next rainy day.

Testimony on Article 5, (Capital Development Program and Bonds)
[July 29, 2020] The Institute makes the argument that now is the right time for Rhode Island to borrow money to make key investments in our economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Such investments can be found in the revised Housing and Infrastructure Bond proposed in Article 5 of the FY2021 budget. Borrowing now is a relatively safe investment. Rates remain quite low, and strategic investments will likely produce returns in the form of greater economic activity and state revenue, and enough to enable repayment of the loans and interest.

Testimony in Support of Budget Article 15, Sections 7 and 8 (RI Works)
[July 28, 2020] The Raising RI Coalition facilitated by the Institute, writes in support of the two changes to the RI Works Program included in the Governor’s proposed budget and asks the House Finance Committee to consider two other changes to the program.

Senate Testimony on Budget Article 14 sections 1 and 5c (Medicaid Copays)
[July 28, 2020] The Protect Our Health Care Coalition opposes Budget Article 14 Sections 1 and 5c because Medicaid copays pose a very real barrier to care that will negatively impact health outcomes and are a bad deal for the state and the healthcare system that serves us all.

Testimony in Support of Budget Article 14 (First Connections Program)
[July 30, 2020] The Protect Our Health Care Coalition supports expanding the multi-disciplinary First Connections Program to pregnant women to help improve birth outcomes for vulnerable women.

Testimony in Support of Budget Amendment to Article 8 (CARES Act Tax Provision)
[September 23, 2020] The Institute supports saving the state approximately $29 million in much needed revenue by approving Budget Amendment 14 to decouple from a misguided tax provision of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.


Past Testimony

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