As Nicholas A. Mattiello takes over the speakership of the R.I. House of Representatives, the business community needs to know what his plans are for the continuing failure that is the Rhode Island economy.
No matter the outcome of the investigation into former Speaker Gordon D. Fox, he had tackled a number of important issues during his tenure atop the House. From lowering the top marginal income tax rate, to overhauling the state pension system, reinstating the historic-preservation tax credit program, reorganizing the R.I. Economic Development Corporation and creating structures to make the state’s efforts more focused, he was clearly concerned with the Ocean State’s economic future. Even his support of the $125 million Job Creation Guaranty Program came from a desire to infuse capital into Rhode Island businesses that showed promise, even if it was used poorly in the case of 38 Studios LLC.
The challenge for Speaker Mattiello is to not let the hot-button political issues of the moment – repaying the 38 Studios bonds, tolling the Aquidneck Island bridges, modifying the pension settlement (yes, no and no from PBN’s perspective) – take his focus off moving ahead on a number of fronts.
First, the historic-preservation tax program needs to be continued and expanded. Second, the estate tax needs to be reformed. And lastly, the regulation-elimination effort needs to be accelerated and made an ongoing crusade in the halls of government.
Speaker Mattiello, welcome to the job. But now that the handshakes are all done, it’s time to get to work. •