Chafee delivers message of hope, taxes in State of the State

PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Lincoln Chafee used his State of the State address to make the case for two new tax proposals.

Chafee wants to use a 2% hike in the meal and beverage tax to steer more money to K-12 education. The governor says that an investment in the state that will relieve pressure on property taxes for struggling cities and towns.

"I know this will be controversial," he says, "but the money we raise will go to the most important investment we can make - educating our young people and helping the property taxpayer."

Chafee also proposed expanding the sales tax on some goods and services to offset cuts in social service programs. Legislative leaders reacted by saying tax increases should be a last resort. Like Chafee, they hope that growing state revenue will make the tax increases unnecessary.

Chafee also acknowledged Rhode Island's persistently high unemployment rate and he pointed to a crisis of struggling municipalities. He says the status quo is unacceptable. But Chafee says Rhode Island is a national leader on healthcare reform, and he trumpeted service improvements at the DMV. He says things can get better if people work together.

"Let's shed our irrational negativity," Chafee urges, "and go back to the basics with the ABCs - make our assets work for us, pass an honest budget and have zero tolerance for corruption."

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