State leaders unveiled a new report and recommendations to help Rhode Island improve its rankings on business competitiveness surveys, including a recent report by Forbes Magazine which ranked RI 49th for business.
Rhode Island Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, John Simmons, and Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White introduced the report "Moving the Needle Forward," at a Tuesday Press Conference.
The reports examines Rhode Island's rankings on reports from CNBC, Forbes Magazine, and the Tax Foundation and makes recommendation. The recommendations are divided the recommendations into five sections including economy, workforce and education, transportation and infrastructure, cots of doing business and quality of life.
To address the economy the report suggests reinventing Rhode Island's approach to economic development. To do this the reports says the state should "develop a written, long-term, consensus-based strategic economic development vision." It also suggests enacting a web-based program which addresses skills gaps among job seekers and re-enactment of the "Back to Work Rhode Island" program which allows unemployed individuals to continue to receive unemployment benefits while receiving on the job training. Finally it recommends Rhode Island reauthorize a targeted historic tax credit program and review the feasibility of a statewide arts district.
In order to approve the state's education rankings the report promotes a fully funded full day kindergarten program. It also discusses implementing new high school standards and helping people with little to no college achieve degrees.
The report also suggests better funding for roadways and infrastructure through reallocation of resources, cutting red tape, increasing state funding for roadway operations, maintenance, capital and RIPTA. It also suggests getting the state business leaders involved with the development of a state transportation plan.
As for the cost of doing business the report suggests that the state resist any increase to broad-based taxes and maintain the 2010 income tax reforms. The report recommends that RI reviews it corporate tax structure and current tax incentives to ensure goals are being met. Reducing bureaucratic hurdles and making state website's more user friendly are also on this list of suggestions The report also suggests utilizing the federal healthcare reform law as a tool to reduce overall health care system costs.
On the final rung, "Quality of Life," the report emphasizes creating opportunities for at-risk youth and increasing wellness incentives for Rhode Islanders. It also suggests "re-branding" Rhode Island and improving adult literacy programs.