State taxpayers group to hold forum in Woonsocket tonight

State taxpayers group to hold forum in Woonsocket tonight

WOONSOCKET - With its proximity to Massachusetts and dwindling base of businesses, Woonsocket is considered ground zero by some for the effects of poor economic policy decisions made at the state level.

That's why a group called R.I. Taxpayers chose to hold a forum in the city, and that's why their presentation, which aims to answer the question "Can Rhode Island pull out of its economic death spiral?" will focus on Woonsocket.

"It's one of the areas more affected by the state's poor economy and the bad economic climate," said member Monique Chartier.

Chartier and other members of the Taxpayers will gather at the Woonsocket Elks Lodge at 380 Social St. on Thursday, May 1, to discuss key fiscal and strategic issues that face Rhode Island, and present suggestions on how they can be addressed.

"The residents of Woonsocket are certainly feeling the financial pressures of a faltering state economy," said R.I. Taxpayers President Larry Girouard. "National data strongly suggests that our leaders must consider significant and courageous changes in the way they are governing if Rhode Island is to regain its past prosperity."

The group will hold a presentation titled "The Rhode Island Leadership Culture and its Impact on Taxpayers and Businesses," detailing the negative impact of the state's lack of national economic competitiveness, with a special focus on Woonsocket.

Rhode Island, they say, is considered by many to be the most business-hostile state in the country, and the theory rings true when you look at how many companies are leaving or closing, that new businesses are not being attracted, and that as a result, unemployment in the state continues to lead the nation.

Chartier said the speakers will explore how action by the state's governors and members of the General Assembly have had lasting impact. Decisions, she said, like the approval of legislation allowing daycare workers to unionize last year, show that local leaders are still headed in the wrong direction.

"That's an indication that there's an incomprehension about the seriousness of the problem and what needs to be done to fix it," Chartier said.

Even more alarming, she said, is the needed actions that haven't been taken.

"There hasn't been any real movement, and this is urgent," said Chartier. "We have the 8th highest state and local combined tax burden in the country."

In addition to Girouard, R.I. Taxpayers board member Larry Fitzmorris and research director Lance Chappell will serve as speakers. The group will also present its 2014 Action Agenda, a "roadmap" of policies they say are needed to jump start the state's economy, and bring pride back to Rhode Island.

The event starts at 7 p.m. on May 1, and is free and open to the public. Concerned residents and taxpayers are encouraged to bring their friends and neighbors.