I’ve got to give it to University of Rhode Island economics professor Len Lardaro. He issued a good line upon hearing Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo blame the Trump administration for Rhode Island’s just-announced revenue gap:
Revenues are falling because we are looking to Washington? What a joke. Growth is slowing. Does she think it is sunspots, perhaps?
Ted Nesi highlights a big shortfall in the expected corporate income tax revenue, which jibes with my running hypothesis. Within the last decade, Rhode Island government has made a number of tax changes to make it seem as if politicians were doing something to address our sluggish economy, including to the corporate income tax. These changes have all been gimmicks, though — lowering rates by shuffling around how taxes are calculated.
My theory is that these reforms weren’t revenue neutral at all, but were instead effectively tax increases. This made revenue come in higher than expected for a few years, because taxes had been increased, but it actually put more drag on the economy. Under that scenario, what we’re seeing in Rhode Island is the end of that effect, as projections based on the illusion of growth out-pace the economy.