Ever since I worked as a young man in the Carvel Ice Cream shop in the Mount Hope neighborhood in Providence, I have had an understanding of the important role that small businesses play in our state. Small businesses provide a majority of Rhode Island’s private sector jobs, and they are also poised to continue as the engines or growth in our state’s future.
The General Assembly worked in 2011 session to provide a more supportive environment for small business in our state. Significantly, we passed a budget for the 2012 Fiscal Year that closed a $300 million gap, with substantial changes to human service programs, ended longevity raises for state employees, and made a variety of other spending cuts across state government – ultimately reducing the structural deficit over the next five years by 42.5 percent as compared to the Governor Chafee’s budget, while also avoiding the major expansion of the sales tax that he proposed. We then built on this achievement by passing landmark pension reform that will save the state more than $3 billion.
These actions help to put Rhode Island on the map as a place that incentivizes people to start and expand businesses. In addition, set the stage for a major burst of development in the new Knowledge District by establishing the I-195 Redevelopment Commission.
In 2012, I am committed to building on these achievements, as well as the package of laws enacted in 2010 that focused on making it easier to do business in Rhode Island. That means looking at fire code regulations that have been a source of frustration for many business owners, as well as other regulatory reform that can help reduce costs especially for our small businesses, who can little afford to absorb them in any economy, let alone this very tough economy.
It also means continuing our investment in and strengthening our public education system towards providing a better educated workforce. This goes all the way from early childhood education, in which we’ve just won a national Race to the Top grant, through continuing our K-12 reform and also working to make public higher education more affordable and accessible. It also means strengthening job retraining programs to help the thousands of unemployed Rhode Islanders develop the skills they need (and our businesses need them to have) to rejoin the workforce.
I welcome the input of the small business community on all issues of importance in our state. Please contact me with any ideas, questions or concerns at email@example.com.
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