Many Rhode Islanders continue to experience fear and hardship due to the economy. As Rhode Island recovers from the recession, Senator Paiva Weed is working to create an economic environment that fosters job creation and ensure that businesses can flourish. As in every year, it was her priority to pass a fair and equitable budget, which maintained competitiveness while making smart investments to help get Rhode Island’s economy on track.
In addition to investments in education which lay a solid foundation for economic success, Senator Paiva Weed worked to develop a budget that invests in Rhode Island’s economic prosperity.
Most Rhode Islanders will now be exempt from income taxation on social security benefits. As of January 1, 2016, tax filers with federal adjusted gross incomes up to $80,000 if filing singly, $100,000 if filing jointly, will be exempt from taxation of their Social Security benefits.
Senator Paiva Weed also helped enact an incremental increase in the state’s minimum wage for the fourth consecutive year. As of January 1, 2016, the minimum wage will increase from $9 to $9.60, which is in line with neighboring states.
Additionally, Senator Paiva Weed supported the first increase in the subminimum base wage paid to tipped workers in 20 years. The rate will increase from $2.89 to $3.39 in 2016, and $3.89 in 2017.
The budget eliminates the sales tax that nonmanufacturing businesses had been charged on natural gas and heating fuels, making it less expensive to do business in Rhode Island.
In 2014, the corporate tax rate was reduced from 9 to 7 percent, dropping the rate from the highest in the region to the lowest in New England as well as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Combined with a shift in the methodology in which businesses are taxed, this provides a fairer system of taxation that also improves the state’s economic competitiveness.
Building on that progress, this year the $500 minimum corporate tax was also reduced to be more competitive with neighboring states.
In addition, a package of economic development tools and incentives to attract companies and spur job creation was enacted, including programs to encourage redevelopment, attract suppliers that serve Rhode Island companies to locate in the state, and encourage proposals on the former I-195 land.
Senator Paiva Weed championed the Rhode to Work action plan last year to improve workforce development and better prepare the workers of today and tomorrow for the demands of a modern economy. Rhode to Work is bringing more resources to workforce development. Job training programs will be more effective, and better coordinated so that Rhode Islanders can easily access them and get on the road to work. Education at the secondary level will be better aligned with the needs of today’s businesses.
Senator Paiva Weed also worked with business leaders, particularly the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, to develop a package of legislation known as “Moving the Needle.” This multi-faceted approach to improving Rhode Island’s economic competitiveness: made reforms to the state’s disjointed approach to economic development, established programs to boost the skills of the workforce and educational attainment, and addressed infrastructure, taxation, regulatory burdens, and business cost drivers such as health care and energy.
Senator Paiva Weed recognizes the power of the creative sector in contributing to economic growth. She organized the state’s first Rhode Island Arts Charrette to bring together stakeholders to work on an action plan for economic development through the arts. She sponsored legislation to provide a new sales tax exemption on all original artwork produced in Rhode Island, as well as the creation of a new “State of the Arts” Task Force. She is a champion of the arts and cultural economy bond on the November ballot.
A forward thinking leader, Sen. Paiva Weed has also championed the growth of the renewable energy sectors and bringing green jobs to Rhode Island. The Defense Economy Commission she established is working to preserve and strengthen the critical defense industry in Rhode Island. The recommendations of legislative Port Commission she created have helped to capitalize on Rhode Island’s unique geographic strengths through thriving working waterfronts and to improve port economic development. Among numerous other initiatives, Senate Paiva Weed also created a Senate Fisheries Task Force to explore ways to reduce regulatory barriers to the fishing industry and promote growth of the local seafood industry.
At the State House, Senator Paiva Weed:
- eliminated the income tax on social security benefits for most recipients;
- increased the minimum wage for the fourth consecutive year, to $9.60 as of January 1, which is in line with neighboring states;
- increased in the subminimum base wage paid to tipped workers in 20 years. The rate will increase from $2.89 to $3.39 in 2016, and $3.89 in 2017
- reduced the cost of running a business by eliminating the sales tax that nonmanufacturing companies had paid on natural gas and heating fuels;
- reduced the $500 minimum corporate tax so it is in line with neighboring states
- reduced the corporate tax rate from 9 to 7 percent, the lowest rate in New England as well as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Combined with a shift in the methodology in which businesses are taxed, this provides a fairer system of taxation that also improves the state’s economic competitiveness;
- put in place a package of economic development tools and incentives to attract companies and spur job creation, including programs to encourage redevelopment, attract suppliers that serve Rhode Island companies to locate in the state, and encourage proposals on the former I-195 land;
- helped shepherd into law new protections for pregnant workers and those who have recently given birth to ensure that they are not discriminated against in the workplace;
- increased the earned income tax credit for low- and moderate-income wage earners to put more money in the pockets of these workers;
- supported establishment of the transportation infrastructure fund to invest in Rhode Island’s roads and bridges, while eliminating tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge;
- successfully advocated for the elimination of the sales tax on original Rhode Island artwork, helping to distinguish Rhode Island as a “State of the Arts” and to improve the economy through the creative sectors, and established a task force related to economic development through the arts;
- successfully fought to eliminate the sales tax imposed on pre-packaged tours because of the importance of tourism to Rhode Island’s economy;
- developed a package of legislation to give Rhode Islanders access to programs they need to gain the skills in demand in today’s economy, while also better aligning education with industry demands and providing additional resources for workforce development;
- worked with business leaders to develop a multi-faceted package of legislation to improve Rhode Island’s economic competitiveness;
- championed re-institution of the historic tax credit to provide a boost to the hard-hit construction industry, help improve blighted neighborhoods, and get people working again;
- overhauled the state’s approach to economic development, creating a Commerce Secretary, reforming to the Economic Development Corporation to improve transparency and performance, requiring development of a strategic vision for economic development, and establishing a council of economic advisors;
- facilitated introduction of a package of legislation to cut red tape and reduce regulatory hurdles to “Make it Easy to do Business in Rhode Island”;
- enacted laws to reform the fire code to make it more flexible and less costly, while still achieving public safety objectives;
- passed a package of regulatory reform bills to cut red tape for small businesses;
- won funding for a web-based system offering uniform building plan review, permit management and inspections, to ease local permitting for small businesses, local governments, and others;
- supported measures to remove barriers to employment and training, such as child care assistance for those in training programs;
- called for reverse transfer of academic credits into CCRI to help with attainment of credentials, outreach from colleges and universities to those with some education but no degree, and dual enrollment of high-school seniors in college credit courses;
- supported increased investment in education at all levels, including pre-kindergarten programs, full-day kindergarten, increased aid to school districts, and increases in state aid to URI, RIC and CCRI;
- advanced the most comprehensive restructuring of the state's income tax in 40 years;
- positioned Rhode Island as a national leader in renewable energy;
- supported comprehensive health care cost containment legislation.
Senator Paiva Weed top priorities include strengthening the education system, ensuring access to quality, affordable health care, and protecting our natural resources.
A strong education system lays the foundation for a solid economy. Education not only improves quality of life, it produces a strong workforce and helps attract entrepreneurs and residents. Senator Paiva Weed has striven to align education and workforce development programs with business needs, and strengthen education from early childhood through postsecondary learning.
She has worked to ensure that Rhode Islanders have access to quality health care, while also addressing costs.
A lifelong resident of Newport, she shares with her constituents in Newport and Jamestown a deep appreciation of the bay that surrounds the islands. She has developed legislation to protect Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island’s natural resources, which greatly enhance quality of life for Rhode Islanders and also help to drive our economy.
Quality Education to Support the Future of Rhode Island
Senator Paiva Weed has:
- made education a centerpiece of economic development efforts;
- established a School Building Authority to provide state funding to repair or replace Rhode Island’s crumbling school buildings;
- provided state funding for full-day kindergarten – a proven foundation for educational success throughout schooling – in all Rhode Island school districts;
- supported increased investment in education at all levels, from pre-kindergarten through higher education, with increased state aid to school districts, and additional state aid to URI, RIC and CCRI, in addition to capital investments;
- set in motion work to establish a funding formula for higher education as well as improving outcomes in targeted areas such as degree completion in fields that are in demand;
- allocated $350,000 grant to the Polaris Manufacturing Extension Partnership which will be used, in part, to offer training important in the manufacturing sector;
- ensured that low-income parents can qualify for child care assistance while participating in work readiness programs;
- called for reverse transfer of credits into CCRI to help Rhode Islanders with some college education but no degree achieve an academic credential;
- called for the very successful outreach by colleges to students with some college education but no degree – almost 20 percent of the Rhode Island workforce – to help them finish what they started;
- provided for better coordination of workforce and education policy;
- sought increased professional development opportunities for school counselors in workforce readiness;
- supported a dual enrollment program allowing high school seniors to take college credit courses;
- worked to enact legislation to improve school safety plans;
- coordinated with education officials and others to help Rhode Island secure federal Race to the Top funds for elementary and secondary schools, and another round of federal funding for early learning centers;
- supported legislation to reserve half of charter school slots in the state for at-risk youth;
- supported the “Safe Schools Act” to prevent and address bullying and cyberbullying in schools through educational programs;
- sponsored a bill to bolster after school and summer learning programs for elementary school children;
- changed the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18 years;
- invested in adult education programs, workforce development programs, and the expansion of the CCRI campus in Newport;
- redefined CCRI’s mission to include its role as a workforce development center and provided funding to meet that goal.
Affordable Coverage and Access to Quality Healthcare for Everyone
Access to quality healthcare is critical for all Rhode Island residents. From her first day in office, Senator Paiva Weed took charge to ensure Rhode Islanders have affordable healthcare options.
Senator Pavia Weed has:
- worked to contain costs and ensure Rhode Islanders can access health care;
- worked to “Reinvent Medicaid” to provide improved health outcomes through smarter use of resources;
- better integrated behavioral health and primary care;
- passed a package of overdose prevention drugs to address an overdose epidemic, including a new law that strengthens parity in coverage of mental health and substance use disorders, and promotes effective use of the electronic prescription drug monitoring program;
- supported comprehensive health care cost containment legislation to increase transparency, empower consumers, provide for innovative reimbursement models and improved quality of care;
- championed Rhode Island’s investment in RIte Care;
- enacted the Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable Act, known as the CARE Act, to provide information and training to caregivers about how to tend to patients’ needs at home upon discharge from a hospital;
- passed legislation establishing ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts, tax free savings accounts similar to 529 college savings plans to support services for disabled Rhode Islanders when they reach adulthood;
- required the development of transition plans by DCYF for all children under the jurisdiction of the Family Court who are developmentally delayed or seriously emotionally disturbed prior to the child turning 21 and aging out of the system;
- passed legislation to allow for increased beds and innovative models of nursing home care being utilized at St. Clare – Newport;
- been recognized for her efforts to ensure responsible nursing home reimbursement models that provided for quality of care;
- called for a plan to better enable the state’s elderly population to remain living in their communities;
- advocated for a cap on premiums for small employer groups;
- improved financial protections for cancer patients on oral chemotherapy treatment, putting chemo pills and related treatments on a par with intravenous treatment;
- passed legislation providing for electronic prescriptions, improving efficiency and reducing errors;
- promoted insurance for disabled citizens and a waiver for individuals with pre-existing conditions;
- co-sponsored requirement that health insurers cover autism diagnosis and treatment;
- supported establishment of a cardiovascular disease screening and lifestyle intervention pilot program for at-risk women in the state’s urban communities;
- supported enactment of the “Rhode Island All-Payer Patient-Centered Medical Home Act,” a model of health care that promotes more efficient payment to physicians and better value, accountability and transparency to patients;
- supported the RIPAE program to assist seniors in the high costs of prescription drugs.
Healthy Residents Sustain a Healthy Environment
The health and safety of Rhode Island’s citizens go hand in hand with the health of the surrounding environment. Senator Paiva Weed has worked diligently to ensure open spaces and the beautiful bay are protected, while advocating for greater energy independence and a reduced carbon footprint. District 13 overlooks Narragansett Bay, and Senator Paiva Weed is noted for her work to protect the surrounding water so it may remain healthy and safe for citizens and families in her community.
In the Senate, Senator Paiva Weed has:
- supported efforts to increase reliance on renewable energy, including enactment of legislation that has become a national model;
- made reforms to drive down the cost of renewable energy produced by smaller projects and bolster the creation of green jobs;
- supported innovative law to allow homeowners to access low-cost, fixed rate loans for energy upgrades in their homes which become an assessment on their properties;
- passed law to phase out cesspools by replacing them upon sale of a home, helping to protect wetlands and Narragansett Bay from this inadequate means of waste disposal;
- passed legislation to establish a single, statewide set of regulatory standards for freshwater wetland buffers and setbacks, better protecting the environment while also improving the regulatory climate;
- created state infrastructure bank, seeded with $5 million from federal and other sources, to loan cities and towns funds to make buildings more energy efficient;
- supported creation of a Climate Change Council;
- supported program to divert food scraps away from the landfill and towards beneficial uses;
- supported requirement that heating oil include bio-based product;
- worked to provide that inherited farmland be assessed at its use value in order to prevent family farms from being sold or driven out of business when one generation passes it to the next;
- sponsored legislation creating the Habitat Restoration Fund and rewarding local companies that assist in the effort to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Among the restoration projects funded through this program is the Gooseneck Cove Salt Marsh in Newport;
- supported legislation providing that waste cooking oil generated by restaurants be recycled;
- established a council for the proper recycling, reuse and disposal of mattresses.
Senator Paiva Weed works with Newport and Jamestown residents, community organizations and local businesses to ensure the district’s concerns are heard at the State House. A lifelong resident of the community, Senator Paiva Weed understands the district and has made protecting and enhancing the quality of life for Newport and Jamestown residents her priority. With its historic backdrop of Narragansett Bay, District 13 is a highly visited community in Rhode Island.
As state senator for Newport and Jamestown, Senator Paiva Weed has:
- lowered the toll rate on Pell Bridge for local residents;
- called for installation of center lane barriers for safety on the Pell Bridge, and increased enforcement of traffic safety laws on the bridge;
- supported the establishment of the Transportation Infrastructure Fund that invests in Rhode Island’s roads and bridges while eliminating tolls on the Sakonnet River;
- won significant state investment in Fort Adams to improve public access to the bay and to accommodate world class events such as the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup World Series, which help to benefit the local economy;
- successfully opposed LNG terminals in Narragansett and Mount Hope Bays;
- placed a strict cap on property taxes to offset the high cost of living in a historic community;
- successfully increased aid to Newport and Jamestown to relieve pressure on the property tax base;
- established the Defense Economy Planning Commission, and worked hand in hand with the Newport Chamber of Commerce to ensure the military remains a strong presence on the island;
- eliminated the sales tax on pre-packaged tours because of the importance of tourism to the economies of the district and the state;
- championed affordable housing projects in her community;
- protected the industries that these unique communities bring to Rhode Island, including marine trade and boat building and fisheries;
- supported funding for Newport’s CCRI campus;
- worked to expand the Naval base in Newport, which brings quality jobs to residents.