House OKs Casino Proposal; Tax Hikes Fail

The debate lasted an hour and a half.


The Rhode Island House of Representatives OK'd a casino proposal by 65 to 8 tonight, according to the Providence Journal. It did not approve either of the amendments proposed.

The bill was introduced by House Finance Committee Chairman Helio Melo, D-East Providence.

Democrats in leadership positions pushed against a state tax rate increase should the voters in November approve full casinos at Twin River and Newport Grand. Rep. Brian Newberry, R-North Smithfield, who is House Minority Leader, wanted to see a 2 percent increase of the state's share of the casino revenues.

State Rep. Charlene Lima, D-Cranston, wanted to see an even larger hike of 8 percent, according to the Providence Journal.

Supporters of the amendments, such as East Greenwich's state Rep. Robert Watson, said the leadership-inspired bill did not adequately address the needs of the state. 

Those opposed to the increase said the state has to consider the viability of the businesses and whether the tax increase would simply be too much.

House Majority Leader Nicholas Mattiello, D-Cranston, called the proposed increases "unsustainable" and a "disservice" to Rhode Island taxpayers in the long run.

Jeff Keithline June 13, 2012 at 12:54 PM
I am not a big proponent of casinos. And I don't have much confidence in our state legislators. However, these are trying times for Rhode Island, financially, socially, every which way, and it's clear that we have to do everything possible to try to get our local economy going. Using Twin River and Newport Grand to siphon money away from local gamblers in order to increase State revenues is a temporary fix at best. But - developing our inner harbor waterfront in Providence as a modern tourist/convention/etc destination district - ala Baltimore's Inner Harbor or San Antonio's River Walk - with Hotels, Restaurants, Museums, Nightlife, and yes, if we must - a casino, would give Rhode Island what we need most - more people working at good jobs. A Lot More. History tells us we have to play the hand we are dealt (appropriate metaphor?), the success or failure of individuals, cultures, and nations depend on accurate assessment of what is happening at any given time. For Rhode Island, the smallest state, we have to think Big.
Jill Stange June 13, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Well put Jeff. As a transplant from MA and NJ, I could never understand why the real estate overlooking most of the bay was so under-valued and under-utilized. It seems like Rhode Islanders don't value the state's most valuable asset. How about a casino that sails around the bay... that would attract tourist dollars, rather than exploiting those with gambling problems. While we are at it, how about more wind turbines! We've got wind; I mean that literally.


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