QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES FROM WPRI – WHERE THEY STAND

Do you support or oppose the following measures:

PAYING BACK THE 38 STUDIO BOND

Given the fact that there are several documents that remain outside the public’s view, it would be foolishly impossible to attempt to answer this question with any semblance of reason. That said, my view would be to get a full accounting of the background, open the documents to the public, and take what then appears to be reasonable action in light of the facts uncovered.

LOWERING THE STATE SALES TAX

Rhode Island’s sales tax is quite high, but it has quite a few exemptions. That being the case, I would clearly oppose further expansion of the items to be taxed. Similarly, I would work to decrease this tax. I recall the promises related to the temporary nature of the rise from 6 to 7. In Rhode Island, temporary is forever. I think this action by government is downright despicable.

As to the idea to completely eliminate the sales tax, I believe that it would be worthy of a test to check its validity. I am not entirely convinced that the income taxes would off-set this move, but I am interested enough to further explore it.

I will not disagree with a reduction in the sales tax in I have long argued that sales taxes, while they tax all equally, have a far greater regressive impact. Under the sales tax scheme there is a flat tax. If a rich person buys the same item as a poor person, they pay taxes equally, but the percentage of the cost to earning is clearly different.

I do not object to regressive taxation, but I would clearly consider the regressive/progressive arguments in setting tax policy.

DECREASING THE CORPORATE TAX FROM 9% TO 7%

In considering this, I lean toward the argument that a reduction in the corporate tax would encourage larger businesses to consider relocation in Rhode Island and would help in the retention of those presently in the state.

I am always reluctant to use tax policy as such, but I am aware of the realities of today’s economy and the direction the legislature has taken in relation to this. As such, I would say that I agree, but I am not a true convert.

LEGALIZING MARIJUANA FOR RECREATIONAL USE

I believe in personal freedom. I believe that we are all individuals capable of making decisions for ourselves. I believe that legalization is merely reclamation of the right we should not have abridged years ago.

The only exception to this is based on the idea that the government has an obligation to protect youth. Whereas medical evidence seems to clearly indicate that use in youth can have an impact on brain development, and given the implicit role of government to protect those who have not reached the age of majority, I would limit use to those over the age of majority where they are legally capable of being responsible for their own determinations.

THE RHODE ISLAND RETIREMENT SECURITY ACT (PENSION REFORM LAW)

The more I review this matter, the more I am convinced that the pension folks may have a valid point.

If the Assembly can find a moral obligation to pay 38 Studios, where is there any less moral obligation to the pension recipients.

I am still studying the legal issues that relate to the lawsuit and will be issuing my analysis of the situation upon completion of this research. I expect that to be issued in the near future. It will be posted to our web outlets – votehealey.com and on Facebook and on Bob Healey’s Campaign Journal.

TYING STANDARDIZED TESTING TO GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS FOR R.I. HIGH SCHOOLERS

I have long argued that education must make a determination as to whether it is to be used for socialization of society or for academic achievement. To date, education policy makers have failed to address this question, as it should before we proceed with this analysis.

If society is desirous of using its education structure for socialization related issues, the answer is clearly “no”. Conversely, if we are to base our education system on educational achievement, the answer is “yes”. Our problem is that we have no clue as a state as to where we envision our education policy.

INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE IN RHODE ISLAND

I find this issue to be confused by most. I see the increasing of the minimum wage to be similar to pushing into one side of a balloon. The air inside the balloon neither decreases nor increases.

The raise in minimum wage will cause a ripple effect in that everyone will enjoy a similar increase throughout the workforce. If minimum wage increases by a dollar, everyone in the workforce would expect their wages to increase by a dollar. As such, the cost of production increases to cover the increase in labor costs. Goods cost more. Inflation makes goods more expensive. In short, it is like kissing your sister. It may be fun but it gets nowhere.

I believe we need to have jobs to create a competitive environment whereby cheap labor is in short supply and this will create a competition for labor, thereby increasing the wages.

INCREASING THE RI INCOME TAX FOR HIGH EARNERS

I rely on the Rhode Island Constitution for guidance. There, in Article I Section 2 whereby it states that laws are to be for the good of the whole and the burdens to be equally distributed. As such, I would not engage in special tax policies to benefit or penalize any group, rich or poor.

As such, I would only require that the tax policy be implemented in a manner that treats all equally.

BINDING ARBITRATION FOR TEACHERS

I oppose binding arbitration for teachers. Instead, I favor a statewide teacher contract, negotiated every two years prior to the adjournment of the Assembly in election years, thus giving the voter a check over the action of their legislator.

Binding arbitration in the current method of negotiation would not be in the interest of fair bargaining. The parties need to proceed from a point of equality. Under the current system, given the manner by which contracts are negotiated with local school boards, the interposing of obstacles by the State, and the general nature of such negotiations, to grant binding arbitration would not be in the best interest of the taxpayers specifically, and the general public as a whole.

DRIVER’S LICENSES FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

I clearly oppose issuance of Rhode Island driving licenses to undocumented individuals.

That said, I believe that there should be issued driving papers. These papers, much like an international drivers license, cannot be used for identification purposes, but are used for the purpose of compliance with the driving regulations of the state, including the need to have insurance.

I have written extensively on this matter in terms of immigration status, and that writing can be found on Bob Healey’s Campaign Journal at the top of the page.

REPEALING VOTER ID REQUIREMENTS

This issue requires a bit of legal analysis. First, citizens have a constitutional right to vote. That right can be predicated on state law related to voter registration. One must present evidence of citizenship to a licensing authority for registration as a voter. This ensures an orderly election.

Once registered, in order to vote, the person appears at the poll. The requirement to present a valid ID to vote directly on that day is not one that prohibits the exercise of the right to vote. Under law the person without a valid ID has the ability to vote by provisional ballot. This provisional vote, based on the voter’s signature, is counted later by the canvassing authority, after a comparison and verification of the signature.

There is no loss of the right to vote. The presentment of a valid ID merely is the predicate step to the vote at the booth. By enabling a provisional ballot, I feel this issue can be overcome and is not a duly burdensome requirement when balanced against the integrity of the vote.

Robert J. Healey, Jr.

September 26, 2014

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