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Monday, March 28, 2022

Revenue for Rhode Island coalition looking to tax the one percent

Time to tax the rich 

By Steve Ahlquist

The Revenue for Rhode Island coalition kicked off their 2022 campaign today to “raise revenue for the state by adding one new tax bracket – at a marginal rate of 8.99% (in place of the current top rate of 5.99%) on income above $500,000, ensuring the top 1% of earners are contributing their fair share. 

The legislation, S2264, sponsored by Senator Melissa Murray (Democrat, District 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), and H7440, sponsored by Representative Karen Alzate (Democrat, District 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls), is estimated to raise $144.5 million in new tax revenue, and would only impact the top 1% of tax filers.”

“The gap between the rich and poor continues to widen due to decades of policies that have helped the rich get richer,” stated Senate bill sponsor Senator Murray. 

“We can’t keep balancing budgets by cutting vital social service programs that our most vulnerable citizens depend on, especially with Rhode Island residents still feeling the effects of the COVID pandemic. This legislation will allow us to properly fund critical programs and services once the federal relief money dries up. This helps put our state on more solid financial footing going forward, and ensures a more fair and equitable tax structure.”

“While we have seen an influx of federal pandemic relief money into our State’s coffers, these are one-time funds and will soon be dried up. Looking forward, it is imperative that our state raise revenue so that crucial and often life-saving programs and services remain available to Rhode Islanders in need,” said Representative Alzate. 

“The pandemic has taken a massive toll on lower and middle class Rhode Islanders – we can’t keep asking them to absorb more and more cuts without asking the wealthiest Rhode Islanders to chip in. We’re simply asking the wealthiest 1% to pay a small percentage more on income above and beyond $500,000, while having no impact on those Rhode Islanders making less than that amount.”

“Governor McKee and the General Assembly have committed to increasing state investments for affordable homes,” said Melina Lodge, Executive Director of the Housing Network of Rhode Island. 

“The Revenue for RI legislation provides a pathway to do that beyond one-time use of federal funds. Revenue raised from this sensible and popular proposal will also fund complementary and crucial investments in our schools, workforce, natural resources, and diverse communities. Right-sizing our revenue stream is critical to ensuring adequate funding for these initiatives in years to come, beyond a one-time infusion of federal funds.”

“Child care, early learning, and child development programs are essential to ensuring that all of our state’s children get off to the right start in life and that our families are supported,” said Khadija Lewis-Khan, Executive Director of Beautiful Beginnings Child Care Center in Providence. 

“Unfortunately, state funding for these critical programs is not keeping up with demand. We’ve lost nearly $48 million in state general revenue for child care since 2005 and we are currently spending less state general revenue on Early Intervention than we did in 1999. This is simply not sustainable. That’s why I support Revenue for Rhode Island, so we can raise the revenue needed to truly invest for the long term in Rhode Island’s child care and Early Intervention systems.”

Revenue for Rhode Island coalition members include the RI AFL-CIO, NEARI, RIFTHP, SEIU State Council, SEIU District 1199, Economic Progress Institute, Carpenters Local 330, Center for Youth & Community Leadership in Education (CYCLE), Coalition of Labor Union Women RI, Direct Action for Rights and Equality, IFTPE Local 400, Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty, Latino Policy Institute, Planned Parenthood Votes! of RI, Protect Our Healthcare Coalition, Providence Central Labor Council, RI Association for Infant Mental Health, RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence, RI Coalition for Children and Families, RI Coalition for the Homeless, RI National Organization for Women, The Right from the Start Coalition, UNITE HERE Local 26, URI American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Women’s Fund of RI, and the Working Families Party. 

To learn more about the Revenue for Rhode Island campaign, visit