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Initial reaction to Governor’s budget proposal

Grow Smart applauds Governor’s focus on playing to, investing in Rhode Island’s strengths

Very preliminary review suggests that the Governor’s proposed budget would move Rhode Island toward more enduring economic growth and an enhanced quality of life

While there’s plenty of details to scour, Grow Smart’s initial review finds several reasons to be hopeful that the Governor’s comeback agenda will accelerate Rhode Island’s recent positive momentum, as evidenced by a steady decline in our still too high unemployment rate. In fact, a number of the Governor’s proposals are aligned with recommendations that Grow Smart included in its 2014 Briefing Book for Candidates and Voters last September.

In particular, we’re intrigued with and interested in learning more about the package of real estate tax incentives to encourage construction of job-producing projects, with a focus on historic structures and development near transit centers.

The Governor has recommended creation of a new Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit, described as “a refundable tax credit similar in structure to the state’s previous historic structures tax credit” which we know has a proven record of generating economic development and community revitalization across the state. She also referenced that her package includes tax increment financing and partial assistance for local tax stabilization agreements that will make investing in construction and development in Rhode Island a more compelling proposition. Grow Smart has supported both of these revitalization tools in the past.

Elsewhere in her budget the Governor proposes the creation of a $25-million “I-195 Development Fund” to provide the state with additional tools to invest in critical infrastructure and to attract new institutions, employers and other assets to the 19 buildable acres made available by the relocation of the highway. We also appreciate the caution with which the Governor is approaching state financial support of a new Minor League baseball stadium, saying that the new I-195 Development Fund is not to be used for a stadium or sport-related complex. Grow Smart remains open to construction of such a facility, but has serious concerns about limited state economic development resources being used to subsidize it.

Finally, the Governor pledged to embark on a stepped-up and state-branded tourism marketing campaign, something that Grow Smart has been advocating in order to more effectively compete with neighboring states.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis of the Governor’s proposed budget in the coming weeks.

Click HERE to access the Governor’s full State Budget proposal

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