When the General Assembly Goes After The Little Guy...

Supporting taxi drivers who are organizing to repeal the tax we imposed on them this year; thinking about the critical mass of leadership necessary to do things differently.

An unfortunate side-effect of our unbalanced government is our unstable budget process. Instead of reducing expenditures, our state lurches from crisis to crisis, perpetually searching for more revenue from more sources. Over the past two years, small business owners and employees across Rhode Island have had to be particularly vigilant, as it seemed each new tax proposal to emerge placed a new group of earners in the cross-hairs. This year we went after dog groomers and taxi drivers. The Providence Journal reported last week that the taxi drivers, who average approximately $24,000 in annual salary, are banding together to try for relief from the General Assembly in 2013.  

What’s really sad about this story is that the legislature didn’t have to go after these particular groups of working poor to balance this budget. The entire tax could have been avoided by using just part of the money that the General Assembly Leadership sets aside for itself in the form of legislative grants. These are special disbursements used to purchase good will for individual legislators (and support pet projects such as the Institute for International Sport) in their districts.  

During the Senate floor debate, I proposed a budget amendment to do exactly that, as did House Minority Leader Brian Newberry in the opposite chamber. I think it was a common sense idea that would have prevented the legislature from harming yet another group of its citizens, and it reflects a different way of thinking than those currently calling the shots on Smith Hill.   

I hope the taxi-drivers and the dog-groomers are successful in getting redress next year. Real stability and prosperity for Rhode Island, however, can only come by electing more leaders with long-term vision and respect for the consequences their actions impose upon the people they represent. As you can see from the vote tally, we don't have enough yet.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Stephen Greenwell August 03, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I guess he should have blogged about the civil rights issues involving chicken companies instead. Jim, what people do and don't want to respond to on our sites is often a mystery to me.
Jim Halsband August 03, 2012 at 07:23 PM
There are so many issues being spun by everyone with an agenda to advance, but what is so glaringly obvious is the fact that we simply ignore history, why are we so adverse to learning from past lessons, from the simple to the sublime. The tax issues are pretty simple, time for the tax dodgers to pony up, they got caught gouging the hell out of us in the name of trickle down economy, if the corporations and the banksters would pay their fair share, the country would be solvent, pretty simple! And the historical lessons apparently unlearned from the Fall of the Roman Empire, the middle class crushed under the burden of supporting a giant military, well if you add in all the corrections cash being sucked out of our economy housing real criminals, the pot smokers, close to 800,000 of them in our prisons costing us about $60,000 per year per head on a for profit basis in this new prison industrial complex, just do the math on incarceration costs, I'm just not seeing why America is allowing this insanity to cost us trillions in this futile and epic failure of the war on drugs for decades, we are the prison kings of the world! I hope Michael Phelps with his 20 Olympic medals draped across his chest, steps up and says, "Well, it certainly didn't ruin my life!" Regulation aside, that is a discussion for another day, pot smokers are no more criminals than are beer drinkers. That's the reality of that, prisons lobby hard for their money, the middle class can no longer afford this!
Jim Halsband August 03, 2012 at 07:59 PM
I'll check out those links, but I have been following this monstrous hydra for years, and the 800 plus new laws carefully crafted by its lobbying partner ALEC, for example, I have spoken of this ad nauseum, but it is imperative that this law gets repealed. "Such a simple law, raise the drop-out age to 18" It sounds so righteous when Chafee says, the kids need to be in school! The No Child Act and the mandatory testing which has reduced creative thinking overall by 19%, as a side effect! Poorer students are tacitly shown the door by teachers whose job is on the line if test scores don't make the grade. These kids can't catch up, hate school and want to quit, learn to turn a wrench, bang nails or whatever, but not anymore! The new law makes then truant and shepherds them off to a new incarceration facility, where they are now in the corrections system, good luck getting out of that! so, this law is the ULTIMATE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE! The ALEC group had already built a new facility before the law was passed, knowing that this new revenue stream will be imminent. This simply robs these kids of any shot at life, throw away kids, heads for the beds. I find this outrageous, we need to repeal this law and the other 799 laws ALEC wrote and their toadies passed into law! They lost their privilege to dictate how America should live! Just my opinion.
Jim Halsband August 03, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Thanks, Larry, just spent some q-time with the rude one! definitely speaks my language!
seed and soil August 08, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Hodgson wrote a blog a month or so ago about the very most important issue explaining why the overwhelming dysfunction exists in the general assembly......virtually no response. Mind boggling. Interesting and disheartening what captures the average human. If it's petty, pointless, non productive bickering of the small issues.....everybody is "in" sharing their opinion. You get a guy like DH, who is clearly intelligent, balanced and sees the larger, critical issues required to restructure the system, and no one takes notice. Or..... maybe humans are just more prone to respond if they disagree than agree. Maybe the lack of reply comments is the silent majority giving the nod of approval. One can only hope!


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