Car tax elimination highlights Rhode Island’s $13.6B budget proposal
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Rhode Island House leaders unveiled the state’s $13.6 billion budget Thursday night.
The proposal contains no tax hikes and no elimination of state programs.
“This is a very good budded, I am very proud of this budget,” said House Speaker Joe Shekarchi.
Earlier in the day, state leaders announced several tax relief programs in the proposal, including elimination the car tax with taxpayers expected to save roughly $64 million this year.
“I think its time we eliminate the car tax in its entirety, so with the budget we are looking to propose, almost all Rhode Islanders will not be paying a car tax in 2023,” said Senate President Dominick Ruggerio.
The one municipality that will still have to pay is East Providence as their are on a different fiscal schedule than the rest of the state, but East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva said he is looking to change that.
“I have spoke with our finance director and will be out to our state delegation,” DaSilva wrote in a statement. “I am working to give East Providence residents the same car tax break as every other Rhode Island resident.”
Leaders also announced a child tax credit to the tune of $250 per child up to three children for those who make $100,000 or less as a single filer or those who makes less than $200,000 as joint filers.
The speaker clarified Thursday night that those that qualify will be getting checks and they are expected to be delivered this fall.
Small businesses also got some relief with leaders proposing to fund the unemployment trust fund to the tune of $100 million.
There is also a proposal to increase the circuit breaker tax credit for senior and disabled residents.
In the education realm, there is $300 million for school construction and funding allocated to increase the pre-K seats in the state by 5,000 over the next five years.
Leaders committed $250 million towards affordable housing.
“We want to build permanent housing for homeless people in Rhode Island,” said the speaker.
The budget proposal would also fund two pilot programs. One being to make the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority R-Line free to all riders and if it is successful it could be expanded to all riders in the future.
The other will give additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, benefits to recipients who buy fruits and vegetables.
Other allocations include additional funds to address the needs of Department of Children, Youth and Families, including putting $12 million to start exploring a site to house girls in the DCYF system.
There is also $1 million to construct suicide barriers on state bridges.
“We positioned the state to withstand another downturn,” said Shekarchi.
Some omissions include no allocation towards the Tidewater Landing project and not funding a temporary gas tax suspension.
Pawtucket leaders in recent days have put out calls to have the state kick in additional funding to the project after it was determined the cost to complete the project increased by 50%.
“The city has not made any formal ask for any funds for Tidewater [Landing],” commented Shekarchi.
On the gas tax front, state leaders said they couldn’t guarantee that distributors would pass the saving from eliminating the tax to consumers.
Rhode Island GOP Chairwoman Sue Cienki criticized leadership for not including the proposal.
“Gas is now $5 a gallon in Rhode Island. It wouldn’t be that high if McKee, Shekarchi, and Ruggerio simply agreed to suspend the gas tax,” Cienki said in a statement.
The House Finance Committee approved the proposal Thursday night. It now goes to the full House the following Thursday.