Dee from the Desk: Why Taveras's tax increase is NOT political suicide
Angel Taveras is going where no man has gone before…
Okay so it's not quite that dramatic.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras (and likely 2014 gubernatorial candidate) announced his budget for the next fiscal year with a little surprise for property owners – a 6% tax increase.
The move, while making home owners grumble, got a lot of "politicos" to raise their eyebrows. Most politicians don't raise taxes when seeking higher office.
But for Taveras, it wasn't the worst move to make and here is why:
Taveras's new budget, outlined here, raised taxes on property owners, yes, but it kept business taxes the same and addressed the permitting process for small businesses. Meanwhile, most importantly, Taveras kept a promise to unions to give them a raise in the next fiscal year. Promises are big for unions.
While Providence home owner may be against him, at least temporarily, unions have gained respect for him. Union members statewide definitely out number Providence homeowners and this does not escape Taveras.
In order to overcome the well-funded Gina Raimondo, Taveras needs to sure-up her biggest opposition: the unions. The unions will turnout to vote in a primary, they have proven that, just look what happened to former Representative Jon Brien in Woonsocket in the last election.
With the unions on his side, Taveras is left to compete with fiscal-shark Raimondo for the non-union democrats. While some will surely side with the more conservative Raimondo, Taveras is not exactly unpopular and lets be honest about it, unless you live in Providence or own property there, most are not overly concerned that homeowners' property taxes went up.
This move is unlikely to damage Taveras state-wide. With union support and union cash, Taveras is going to be a formidable foe in the primary for Raimondo who is public enemy number one for most unions.
Don't forget: if Taveras prevails in the primary he faces another friend of the unions, Governor Lincoln Chafee. Between the two, Taveras will likely receive more union support because he had no role in the Pension overhaul plan whereas Chafee did.
Chafee has made steps toward repairing his relationship with the unions but let's face it: Taveras, in general, is just more popular than Chafee.
Taveras's new budget effectively shows local unions that he has their backs but at the same time is committed to economic growth. The tax increase is just a bump along the road for Taveras who will be able to quickly overcome the move on a statewide stage by painting it as fiscally responsible.