Government

Advocates press Speaker Shekarchi to increase taxes on the one percent

“In 2006, Governor Carcieri cut taxes on the wealthiest Rhode Islanders,” noted Martinez Youngs. “Because of these cuts, Rhode Island has lost over $1 billion in tax revenue. At the same time, property taxes have increased in order to account for the lost funds. We need to tax the rich in order to make the system work for everyone.”
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Published on June 15, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist

Constituents and advocates from Warwick and across Rhode Island gathered at the Mickey Stevens Sports Complex in Warwick on Tuesday to demand that Rhode Island House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi (Democrat, District 23, Warwick) ensure the passage of H5227, which would raise taxes on the wealthiest one percent of Rhode Islanders – those who make over $475,000 a year.

“We knocked over 2,000 doors throughout the state, almost one thousand of which were in Warwick alone,” said Miguel Martinez Youngs, a Reclaim RI organizer and graduate of the Warwick Public School system who acted as emcee. “Over 100 of Speaker Shekarchi’s constituents wrote letters and postcards sharing compelling personal reasons for why they support a more equitable tax system. Their message was clear: it’s time to tax the rich and invest in our communities.”

Constituents of Speaker Shekarchi’s district submitted postcards, one writing that “the wage gap is putting a chokehold on the working class.” Again and again, postcard writers urged their representatives to invest in schools, housing, and education. They insist: “It’s time to fix Rhode Island.”

“In 2006, Governor Carcieri cut taxes on the wealthiest Rhode Islanders,” noted Martinez Youngs. “Because of these cuts, Rhode Island has lost over $1 billion in tax revenue. At the same time, property taxes have increased in order to account for the lost funds. We need to tax the rich in order to make the system work for everyone.”

“Lobbyists for the rich and powerful are raising the argument that taxing the one percent will somehow negatively impact small business,” said Cassie Tharinger, an organizer with Reclaim RI. “That was something we were curious about because it didn’t really make sense to us.”

The bill only applies to individuals that make over $475,000 a year, which doesn’t apply to most small businesses.

UpriseRI contributor Andy Boardman did the research and debunked the claim that businesses would be negatively impacted here: Yes, some people are businesses. But very few are in the top 1%

As part of Reclaim RI’s advocacy in District 23, they talked to small business owners and heard that most of them are in favor of taxing the rich, said Tharinger.

“The pandemic highlighted the inequities our state faced for many years, said Martinez Youngs, reading a statement from Representative Karen Alzate (Democrat, District 60, Pawtucket). “The richer got more rich, and the poorer continued to struggle.”

Representative Alzate joined UpriseRI and a panel of economic experts to debunk the claims of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and the Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council (RIPEC) here: Debunking the Providence Chamber / RIPEC false claims about increasing taxes on the top one percent

Jordan Goyette, who lives in Speaker Shekarchi’s Warwick district, noted that the proposal to tax the wealthiest one percent simply “corrects a loop-hole.” Goyette urged the state “not to plug our deficit with one-time federal funds.”

“The Chambers of Commerce is saying this will negatively affect small businesses,” said Andy Goldman, a small business owner from Smithfield Rhode Island. “I am a small business owner, and the Chamber of Commerce does not speak for me. I support taxing the one percent”

Warwick City Councilor and small business owner Jeremy Rix spoke at the event, stating “Schools cost money and tax cuts for the wealthy don’t pay for themselves. It’s time to repeal these tax cuts and increase State funding for schools.”

“As far as I’m concerned, when situations like this come up, it becomes very clear what politicians are on the side of the people, and what politicians are on the side of moneyed and other interests,” said Harrison Tuttle, Executive Director of the Black Lives Matter PAC RI.

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