I've got to hand it to the big thinkers in Rhode Island. When it comes to taxes, the lawmakers of L'il Rhody are as innovative as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs rolled into one. Clearly, brilliant minds are at work here, spinning out new ideas to chase people and businesses away from the state with a single-minded determination.
This week, a Blue Ribbon Panel pulled together by Governor Carcieri came out with a set of ideas to raise funds for our crumbling roads and bridges. While the Governor hasn't said anything yet, my bet is he's not thrilled with the panel's recommendations. Among the host of new fees and taxes suggested by the panel was a mileage fee, in which RI drivers would be charged a yearly fee for every mile that they drive. It could be half a cent or a cent, so for someone who drives 10,000 miles per year, a one cent fee amounts to a $100. Mileage would be verified during the required annual auto inspections. Other ideas include tolls on I-95 at the Connecticut and Massachusetts borders, increased registration fees, a higher gas tax, and a tax on any petroleum based product, which includes everything from paint to plastics.
With the highest unemployment rate and per person deficit in the country, perhaps the RI Government should put their innovative thinking to work and come up with ways to make the state more attractive to higher wage earners and businesses. I have a funny feeling that the business-as-usual approach of increasing taxes isn't the answer to growing our economy.