House leaders say RI working to improve business climate

Nicholas Mattiello

The General Assembly has been saying for years it wants to improve Rhode Island's business climate.

Another ranking of "F" from the Kauffman Foundation for small business friendliness was no surprise to small business group director Bill Vernon.

"The cost of doing business for small business keeps going up," Vernon said.

He said a couple of steps could do wonders for the state's ranking.

"Getting back to the middle on some of these ratings would be a huge step forward," Vernon said.

Rep. Brian Newberry, the Republican leader in the House, said the state may already be on the right track.

"With the new speaker coming in this year in March, I think we've taken a couple of small steps forward. I know he's talking about wanting to do more for business, and I expect we'll do more of that next year, hopefully," Newberry said.

Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said he believes a lot has already happened.

"We reduced the corporate tax from 9 to 7 percent. We raised the exemption for the estate tax to $1.5 million and removed the cliff to retain our high-wage earners and our job creators," Mattiello said.

Mattiello said the corporate tax rate is the lowest in New England, which, if nothing else, creates a more positive image for the state.

"We are confident that if we stay on this path, our business climate will improve," Mattiello said.

Mattiello said the Kauffman's rankings came out before the budget was passed.