2012-12-06 / News

From the State House


Dear friends and neighbors, happy holidays to you and your family. Thank you for allowing me to continue as your state representative. It is an honor to serve.

One of the initiatives I will champion when we convene in January 2013 is the historic preservation tax credit.

This is a great opportunity to fuel Rhode Island’s economy. The tax credit was established in 2002, but despite its value to the economy, it was repealed in 2008 for “fiscal responsibility.”

Rhode Island has a rich history of cities and town with strong character. That means we have more old buildings per capita than most states. The preservation credit was responsible for the redevelopment of hundreds of historic buildings and former brownfield sites in the state.

According to Grow Smart Rhode Island, a nonpartisan alliance of business, labor, academic, environment and housing sectors, from 2002 to 2004, the historic tax credits created more than $1.3 billion worth of development, including 11,750 construction jobs and tens of millions in new state and local tax revenue.

In Rhode Island, for every dollar invested in tax credits, there’s $5.35 in economic output. This is labor and business working together with good government to create jobs and economic growth. One of the concerns with the previous program was that there were no limits to the amount of credits the state could authorize. We need to set limits. Also, credits were fully transferable and good for up to 10 years. So, large companies and even some wealthy folks were able to purchase the credits from developers in order to lower their personal corporate taxes in the future. We need to ensure that there isn’t that kind of abuse. Perhaps more like federal tax credits where 95 percent of the tax credit goes to the stated purpose of the project.

Restoring historic buildings in our state in some distressed communities would help revive the economy and put many people to work.

We had some good economic news last month at Quonset. The maintenance dredging project is underway. This re-establishes a depth of 32 feet around the berthing facilities to accommodate current and future carrier business. The port of Davisville is the seventh largest auto importer in North America. This is the bill that I introduced last session as co-chair of a special legislative commission to study economic development at the ports of Rhode Island. The bill authorized the Economic Development Corporation and Quonset Development Corporation the to move forward.

We needed to ensure that federal funds for dredging were not used because Quonset would lose its competitive edge. Davisville is the only commercial U.S. East Coast port that does not have a harbor maintenance tax. That is a substantial competitive advantage.

As taxpayers, we can rest assured that no taxpayer dollars were used for this dredging project. The bond debt will be serviced entirely by Quonset Development Corporation’s operating funds and increased revenues from the port.

These sound investments in infrastructure will ensure we continue to attract and retain maritime business.

“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.” — Victor Hugo.

Thank you for the privilege to be your state representative. You can contact me at 423-0444 or rep-rug giero@rilin.state.ri.us. Stay well.

Rep. Deb Ruggiero serves District 74 representing Jamestown and Middletown in the state House of Representatives.

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