Linc Chafee & the Sales Tax

I have to hand it to Lincoln Chafee in addressing the need to do something about boosting revenue to state coffers. Linc surprised everyone in his Monday announcement of his independent run for governor by stating that he favored expanding the sales tax to bring in an additional $89 million a year. Naturally, he has been pulverized for suggesting any new level of taxation by naysayers who don't want to address anything new in terms of taxes and revenues. They prefer to operate by saying we can't raise taxes when the unfortunate reality is, we must.

Actually the General Assembly may soon follow Chafee's lead and broaden the sales tax. It has been talked about before and the need is desperate now.

Notwithstanding the fact that state government spends more than it takes in and there is a pressing need to cut government costs, something must be done to bring in more revenue in the near term, and so we can hardly avoid discussing taxes. Credit Chafee for having the political courage to do just that.

It's too easy to say "No new taxes!" when the state is drifting towards insolvency. I would sooner see a broadening of the sales tax than severe cuts to local governments that then force them to raise property taxes.

I know many will disagree. But ranting about how state government is the problem and how it is screwing us is not a solution. We need to think creatively about how to deal with this immense problem we've got.


  1. Wholeheartedly agreed! Furthermore, proposing an increase in sales taxes doesn't specify *which* items will be taxed - and Chafee rightly acknowledged that "we can find the right formula for Rhode Island." Thanks for posting, and feel free to participate on Chafee's blog: chafeeforgovernor.com/blogs/blog.

  2. I respectfully disagree. Have you ever known of a "near-term" tax increase that went away? Creating a higher-cost of living is not going to enhance our prospects of bringing in new businesses and more jobs. We have to break this cycle of irresponsible spending, then using it as an excuse to raise another tax.

  3. It is not responsible to raise taxes until you have the courage and leadership to make the neccessary changes in how Government operates. We should regionialize our services..reduce the number of administrators in public education...require 40 hour work weeks for all government workers...and on and on...

    The key is to become more productive before you raise any taxes.

    If these changes are not enough we should first start collecting State Income taxes on those who have State pensions and live out of State. Congress should also pass a law requiring sales taxes on all internet sales. This would help our local retailers who support the State by hiring local people.

    A broad base sales tax that would include food, prescriptions and services hurts low income people.

    Jim Curci

  4. While I'm not happy about the sales tax idea, I do agree that at least it's an idea, and it's not as bad as reducing the sales tax by a percent or two and expanding scope dramatically into services.

    The weak statements Chaffee made about controlling spending do bother me. The idea that he can visit each department directly like he did as a small city mayor is ridiculous.

    And it he does win it's because he will be the candidate of the left, so controlling spending would run against his political supporters.

    I just can't imagine a world where Lincoln Chaffee becomes governor. I just don't see him able to keep up in a policy debate. Is being a nice guy enough to get elected? I hope not.


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