The cooperative relationship between Gov. Gina M. Raimondo and House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, both Democrats, has hit a rough patch lately. It involves Rhode Island’s car tax, a personal property tax that many Ocean State municipalities have used to fill the hole that years of receding state aid have left in their budgets. Mattiello made a campaign promise to remove the car tax, with the understanding that the state would make up the difference to the towns and cities, a prospect that would require tapping millions of dollars in the state budget and redirecting them.
Raimondo for her part has proposed giving Rhode Islanders two years worth of tuition at any of the three state institutions of higher learning, which itself would require using state revenue, up to $30 million per year, to cover the program costs. Mattiello took to Twitter to call the governor “tone deaf” on the issue, with charges of fiscal unsustainability being lobbed back and forth between the two camps.
Is the speaker correct? Is the governor tone deaf when it comes to a car tax repeal?