Economic Progress institute

Alex Nunes

Politicians often promote business tax credits and incentives as a way to develop the economy and, ultimately, create more jobs. In Rhode Island, state reports show hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks have been awarded to businesses in the last decade.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Rhode Islanders need more education to get better jobs. 

That was one of the main findings of a recent report by the Economic Progress Institute, a think tank that works to improve the well-being of low and moderate-income Rhode Islanders. The institute’s executive director, Rachel Flum, sat down to discuss the report and related topics.

RIPR File Photos

Advocates for low-income workers in recent years have pushed in legislatures across the nation for increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit. Now, Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in his budget proposal is asking the commonwealth’s lawmakers to increase the rate from 23 percent to 30 percent.

We're on the cusp of an exciting new year in Rhode Island, with lots of political intrigue and big elections up for grabs. So thanks for stopping by. As usual your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

New State Benefits System Goes Live Tuesday

Sep 12, 2016
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture

As of Tuesday there’s a new way of applying for state benefits like Medicaid and food stamps, or SNAP. It's an online application for all Department of Human Services benefits, all in one place - Rhode Island's biggest information technology project ever. But some advocates for the poor fear there won’t be enough support to help clients make the transition.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment, The Bottom Line.

This week Mark and Dave chat with Rachel Flum, the executive director of the Economic Progress Institute. The Providence-based economic think tank hosts its conference “Rhode to Economic Progress: An Agenda for Workers” next week.

 

Flum previews the conference and discusses economic and labor issues affecting working people, including developing policies on minimum wage, teaching job skills and affordable health care.

Latinos are the fastest growing population in the Ocean State, and a report out Monday finds they’ll make up a quarter of the workforce by 2040. But the group remains disproportionately unemployed and underemployed.

Using information culled from a study by the Economic Progress Institute, the Latino Policy Institute reports points to an unemployment rate for Latinos of 16 percent in 2014, compared to around 7 percent for the rest of the state.

Kate Brewster, executive director and co-founder of the Economic Progress Institute, is leaving the low-income advocacy and research group after 11 years to become executive director of the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, which provides food and clothing to needy local residents in South County while also engaging in policy initiatives and advocacy.

``It is with tremendous mixed emotions that I leave the institute, an organization that has had a lasting and profound impact on the ability of Rhode Islanders to make ends meet,’’ said Brewster in a statement.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Today is the due date for a plan to cut nearly $180 million dollars from Medicaid. Half of that is state funding, the other matching federal dollars. To close a burgeoning state budget gap, Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed cutting hospital and nursing home payments. Her “Reinvent Medicaid” task force delivers its recommendations today for finding the rest of the savings in the state’s health insurance program for the poor. Their proposals are aimed at reducing the cost of caring for some of the most complex patients.

Patients like Juana Kollie.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island has long been engaged in a debate about government benefits for the poor. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says our state isn’t as generous as most other New England states on helping those with less.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston has heard the complaints for years from conservatives and some elements of the business community:  That Rhode Island’s overly generous social welfare programs handcuff taxpayers and harm the state’s business climate.

"Reinvent Medicaid" Town Hall Tonight In Woonsocket

Mar 16, 2015

The first public meeting about Gov. Gina Raimondo’s plans for Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, is scheduled for tonight in Woonsocket. Over the course of four such town hall meetings, organizers hope to gather ideas for saving the program millions of dollars as well as improving services.

The Economic Progress Institute’s Linda Katz is a member of Raimondo’s Medicaid working group.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The four Democrats running for governor mostly agreed with one another on a host of issues during a forum Monday sponsored by a liberal think tank, the Economic Progress Institute. The issues included jobs, safety net programs, and taxes.

The Democratic candidates for governor are slated to discuss a series of economic issues during a forum this evening in Warwick. The event comes with just about five months until the September 9th primary election.

Democrats Angel Taveras, Gina Raimondo and Clay Pell are expected for the 5 pm candidates’ forum at the Ocean State Theatre Company in Warwick. The discussion is being sponsored by a liberal think tank, the Economic Progress Institute.

Aaron Read / RIPR

About 4500 parents who used to have health insurance through RIte Care, the state’s Medicaid program, will have to reapply for insurance if they want to remain covered after the end of the month. The biggest concern is that the poorest Rhode Islanders may not be able to afford it.

Some of the lowest-income Rhode Islanders may be losing their health insurance coverage or paying a bit more for it by the end of this month.

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