Paiva Weed stays vague on whether she’d OK income tax hikeJanuary 16th, 2013 at 5:00 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
Here’s what Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed told The Providence Journal on Dec. 31 when asked about raising income tax rates in Rhode Island: “I would keep an open mind to a tax increase on the highest-wage earners.”
Yet here’s what the Senate president’s newly released report about economic policy suggests on the issue: “The General Assembly could continue to resist increases in broad-based taxes and maintain 2010 personal income tax reforms.”
So does Paiva Weed agree that the income tax rates enacted in 2010 should stay in place? Or is she still open to the idea of raising them? I put the question to her at Tuesday’s press conference, and here’s her entire response:
One of the hardest decisions we make here – I am committed to what the report says. I do not think – and I’ve always been committed – that we should have any change in our tax structure. The Senate was a leader.
But what I have always said is when you look at the budget document, obviously it’s always a choice between vital services and revenue. And I’m always hesitant to say you have a closed mind on anything, because if you don’t look at the budget document in its entirety then you’re making blind choices – on any issue. If you say I support a cut here, I support an increase here – the budget document is perhaps our most significant policy document.
So whenever anybody, quite honestly, asks me any specific question about the revenue side or cut side – I think the finance chairs are always being asked about the cut side, and their famous answer is, ‘Everything is on the table’ – and I think that when asked about the revenue said, we always all say we have to keep an open mind on everything.
Because at the end of the day, as legislators, we recognize that it is a broad picture – it’s a painting – it’s not just one specific event.
There’s two ways to read that statement. On the one hand, she starts off by saying, “I do not think … we should have any change in our tax structure.” Later, though, she says legislators “always all say we have to keep an open mind on everything.” It’s unclear if that means she just says she has an open mind about tax increases, or if that means she has an open mind despite being resistant to tax increases.
• Related: Paiva Weed offers her take on turning around the RI economy (Jan. 15)
(photo: Ted Nesi/WPRI)