As Mayor of the City of Pawtucket, I intend to create and promote economic policies that are beneficial to low-income/middle-income families and residents. The best way to foster economic growth is to reduce the great tax burdens placed on our residents and the income inequality of our communities.
The role of the State in our community
State economic policy often has a destructive effect on our city. This is clear to most residents in the city. From the Cooler - Warmer marketing disaster of old to the UHIP fiasco to the Highway Tolls, to Bus Passes for the elderly and disabled, to the great lead up to the departure on the PawSox, we have lurched from blunder to blunder in an extraordinary fashion. Much of the economic damage we endure in Pawtucket is due to the failed policies and initiatives of the State of Rhode Island.
State tax policy often has a destructive effect on our city. This is very clear to residents in the form of our car tax. While the city sets the rate of tax that residents must pay it is the state that has pushed this tax burden from wealthier communities (Jamestown, for example) to poor communities like ours by making cities collect their own car taxes, instead of having an equitable statewide rate like Massachusettes does. So, while Jamestown enjoys a car tax rate of 1.4% Pawtucket suffers from a car tax rate of 5.3%. This State tax policy has sucked 10s of millions of dollars out of our local economy where it could have been spent in our shops and restaurant locally and thereby employ residents and keep money flowing in our local economy. This State tax policy has had a crippling effect on our Pawtucket economy. The State of Rhode Island's failures in economic policy have a profound effect on our local economy.
State education policy often leaves us underfunded and struggling to educate our students. The State's school funding formula is so destructive that it leaves our students and teachers fending for themselves and especially for ELL and Special Needs Programs. Our school system is in such an awful mess that families flee to other cities to keep their children from attending Pawtucket Public Schools. Many Pawtucket families find the state of our Pawtucket public schools so bad that they enter lotteries for Charter Schools in the hopes that their child will get in. The State of Rhode Island's failures in education policy related to the school funding formula have a profound effect on our community. Pawtucket lost out on $13,000,000 in state funding for our schools because the City of Pawtucket was not able to kick in its share of funding to release the state's funding.
Other State policies and actions often leave us in very real danger of losing lives and falling into bankruptcy. The loss of Memorial Hospital, for example, was both an economic disaster and a health care disaster. The State approved the closure of Memorial hospital to the detriment of us all but most especially to babies being born and elderly folks having strokes, heart attacks or other injuries that need hospital services. The State treated Memorial Hospital as if it were a private business similar to a pizza shop or jeweler when in fact for many of us this is an issue of life and death. The State of Rhode Island's failures in health policy related to the loss of Memorial Hospital has had a profoundly negative effect on our community. Our community has suffered far more with the closure of Memorial because of COVID-19. The financial impact from closing Memorial is still being felt: in fact, the City of Pawtucket lost $1.3 Million in revenue last year from the closure.
Policy prescriptions to help change the role of the State in our community
State economic policies that have a destructive effect on the City of Pawtucket must be understood and opposed strongly by the Mayor of Pawtucket and the State Delegation. Pawtucket residents literally suffered from the UHIP fiasco and the loss of free Bus Passes but our Mayor did little to raise awareness and fight for our residents. While a Mayor can't force the State to initiate or stop a policy they can certainly affect policymaking at the state level. As Mayor of Pawtucket, I will advocate for Pawtucket residents unfairly impacted by bad state economic policies.
State tax policies that negatively impact residents of the City of Pawtucket need to be addressed head-on by both the Mayor and the State Delegation. The idea that the current mayor was mostly silent on the crippling effect of the car tax on our local economy should give us all pause.
State education policies that cause teachers and students to suffer need to be addressed in a manner that is public and informs residents of the city and the state as well. Both the Mayor and the State Delegation need to tackle the enormous issues in the state's education funding formula and educate the state on the unique challenges that Pawtucket faces in terms of ELL and Special Needs programs. We lost out on $13,000,000 for our schools because our city and state leaders are more inclined to fund large projects for out-of-state millionaire investors.
Other State policies and actions that cause things such as hospital closures ought to be met with fierce resistance and an insistence that Pawtucket residents deserve better. The fact that the current Mayor and most of the State Delegation allowed Memorial Hospital to slip away is alarming.
The role of the City in our community
City economic policy is extremely lacking in terms of protections for low-income and senior residents and heavily in favor of wealthy developers. The actions of the city with regard to prioritizing the PawSox Stadium over Memorial Hospital were appalling on many levels. The prioritization of a soccer stadium development plan in the time of an unprecedented public health crisis and extreme economic downturn is taking us in the wrong direction.