2015-02-26 / Editorial

Don’t deflate the state’s boating economy

A bill that has been introduced at the Rhode Island State House may cause serious damage to our boating economy if approved. This is an alert for every boater in Jamestown and beyond.

According to the story that starts on Page 15 in this issue of the Press, most R.I. mooring holders would have to pay a $500 fee to the state under the plan outlined in the legislation before the state’s House of Representatives.

The governor’s office reports that Rhode Island’s marine trades economy is in excess of $2 billion annually. That figure stands to suffer if the bill should be passed. Recall the early 1990s when our state’s boating economy barely had a pulse. The General Assembly voted to remove the sales tax on boats, and ultimately the bay’s marine economy began to thrive. Although the boating economy follows the same trends as the rest of our economy, the state’s marine trades recovery is a real success story.

If you survey Jamestown’s harbors on a warm summer evening, most of the boats sitting at their moorings are smaller, modest vessels, not the large, flashy yachts that we enjoy watching ply the waters of Narragansett Bay. Those modest boats are what fuels the state’s boating economy. In Jamestown alone, a large chunk of our local economy is based upon the boating industry.

Should such a bill be approved by our legislators (or a similar law that would tax the boating economy), then one could expect to see fewer boats at their moorings in the coming seasons.

Don’t let this degrade our marine industry. Let our state lawmakers know your opinion. Call, write or email state Sen. Teresa Paiva Weed and state Rep. Deb Ruggiero with your thoughts on the proposed bill.

It’s not too late to put a stop to this poor solution to filling our state’s budget needs.

— Jeff McDonough

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