Chafee's barber says he supports budget proposal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Lincoln Chafee was on the road yesterday promoting the budget he presented to the General Assembly the day before. In the Tuesday night speech he invoked the name of his barber, Ernie, to support his proposal to impose a six percent sales tax on some goods and services that have never been taxed.

"My barber Ernie will now have to charge a sales tax that will cut into his tips," Chafee said. "But he is willing to bear his part of the burden if we live up to our responsibilities in this chamber."

Ernie Persechino, who operates a one chair barber shop on Hope Street, has been cutting the governor's hair for about five years.

"He likes something that's easy to take care of like most of us do," Persechino says.

Persechino says he supports the governor's plan to lower the sales tax from seven to six percent while at the same time broadening it to services like hair cutting which have heretofore been exempt.

But Ernie's approval is contingent on how the money will be spent.

"Pay down the deficit," he says. "Try to create some jobs. And so on and so forth."

Persechino says he knew the Governor would mention him in his budget address but had no idea what the reaction would be.

His phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from reporters and friends.

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