I’m slow to mention this, so readers have likely seen it, but it’s worth marking down Ian Donnis’s RIPR post for the record:
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello wants to eliminate the “Taylor Swift tax” — Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed statewide property tax on vacation homes worth more than $1 million.
“I’m hoping that the revenues are there to eliminate that,” Mattiello said during a taping Thursday of Rhode Island Public Radio’s Political Roundtable. “You could look to see that eliminated. I agree with the public sentiment that you don’t open the door to a new tax, because it’s just going to expand in the future, so that’s something that I’m really looking to eliminate.”
Mattiello added, “I don’t want to speak for her, but I believe the governor concurs with that at this point, and we’re doing that collaboratively.”
Of course, before the governor announced her budget, we knew that the state’s revenue was running higher than the estimates that she was required to use for her budget. It was therefore predictable that there would be items that would be easy to pick off.
Perhaps the policy and politics folks in the governor’s office figured they might as well use that fact in order to make budget feints, shoring up progressive support by going after The Rich and letting Mattiello take the heat (and opposing rewards) for removing the absurd policy.
If that was the plan, though, I have to wonder whether this particular one wasn’t a bit of a fumble. The association with a pop star blew the proposed tax up from a local story to a national one, adding to the narrative that holds Rhode Island to be anti-business and generally anti-success. Even just locally, though, the proposal might have cost Raimondo the last benefit of the doubt that more-conservative Rhode Islanders might still have been giving the former general treasurer for attacking pension reform.