Some think of Rhode Island as the pay to play state but it may soon become the pay to stay state.
Senator Ryan Pearson has proposed legislation that would pay college graduates to stay in Rhode Island after graduation.
In order to put a plug on the "brain drain" the 24-year-old senator has proposed offering tax incentives to college students who stay in the ocean state for up to ten years after graduation.
Problem is…There are no jobs to keep them here.
Pearson suggests offering tax credits up to $1,000 a year for grads with associate degrees and up to $6,000 a year for grads with bachelors degrees. The actual credit called "Stay Invested in Rhode Island" would be based on the grads ratio of student loan debt.
He argues that these credits will not only keep college grads in RI but also stimulate the housing market.
Pearson's plan while creative proves quite idealistic. Despite a whooping $6,000 credit, an unemployed college graduate is going to be able to do little more than live at home with mom and dad, forget buy a house.
The number one piece of advice I remember professors telling me during my undergraduate studies was be prepared to move out of RI after graduation. I managed to stay but most of my friends I graduated with are long gone. Some wanted to stay, but there were truly no lucrative opportunities to keep them here.
Rhode Island would be better off paying employers to hire young people just out of college or paying for employers to train college students with little work experience rather than paying students to stay.
There is no rule on the credit that says the person must be gainfully employed in their field of study. A student could chose to stay in RI and continue to work the same summer job they have worked throughout college and high school and still qualify for the credit. While it's good for a grad to be employed, being under employed is not exactly helping to solve the brain drain, being underemployed with a lofty tax credit not only fails to correct the "brain drain" but it also drains state resources.
Pearson is correct, though. It's time the state gets creative. At least he had an idea that was different. Rhode Island needs more out of the box ideas to actually solve some of the states pressing issues, and there are many, including the "brain drain."
Pearson's "Stay Invested in RI" credit would at least prove to be more beneficial to a larger portion of Rhode Islanders than Providence's super-bailout to develop the superman building into upscale apartments using tax incentives. Who knows, maybe the college grads can use their tax credits to rent one of the "super-apartments."
Ultimately tax credit or no tax credit a college grad looking to provide a future for themselves or a family will probably continue to look outside of Rhode Island where taxes are lower and there are more employment opportunities.
The proposal should be commended as a creative proposal to a pressing problem but not a solution. With limited resources Rhode Island lawmakers need to venture further outside the box and forget the tired solutions of the past. If the state is serious about keeping young people here it will begin to set itself up to be an attractive location for a young up-and-comer instead of attempting to bribe grads to stay in a place with little opportunity.
Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.