At $55,650/Job, RI Cannot Afford the Governor’s Economic Development Approach

In the “Absolutely!” segment of his column in today’s Providence Journal, Ed Fitzpatrick praises Governor Raimondo for bringing one hundred General Electric jobs to Rhode Island. His column continues,

Raimondo has talked about public criticism, saying, “At the end of the day, the governor is judged based upon results.” Well, these are the kinds of results she envisioned in creating an economic development “tool box.” GE will apply for $5 million in tax credits over 10 years and $565,000 in closing funds. While critics decry “corporate welfare,” Raimondo says other states use such incentives, and “you cannot fight with one hand behind your back.”

One hand tied behind your back is a good way to describe what it’s like to try to run a business in business-unfriendly Rhode Island. Yet, rather than improving the state’s business climate by reducing state spending so as to lower taxes, Governor Raimondo has actually been doing the opposite by ramping up a whole array of targeted tax subsidies that everyone else has to pay for.

Yes, we will, indeed, judge the Governor based upon results. But our measure will be much broader than the very occasional photo op success. We’ll be looking for a consensus among national rankings that the state is going in the right direction, for example. And we will definitely be keeping an eye on Rhode Island’s ranking on the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity’s Jobs and Opportunity Index (JOI).

At anything like $55,650 per job, Rhode Island simply cannot afford the “tools” Governor Raimondo is using, either literally or in the cost of her continued inaction to improve the state’s business climate. She needs to begin looking outside of a “tool box” that, so far, resembles a corporate legislative grant program on heavy steroids.

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