Posted by: Providence Chamber of Commerce | September 23, 2011

RI Business Execs Head to Washington

Over 100 RI Business Leaders spent the day in Washington, DC, with host Senator Jack Reed, to dialogue with top administration officials, Senators, Congressmen and other notable experts on a broad range of subjects including the economy, health care, and foreign policy issues. This annual conference, in its 13th year, was designed to provide business executives with insights into the “hot topics of the day” in Washington, and how these issues impact the nation’s and Rhode Island’s economies.

A common theme in the addresses presented by administration officials, was the need for passage of the America Jobs Act –which is expected to create 1.5 to 2 million jobs. As stressed by SBA Administrator Karen Mills and Secretary Ray LaHood of the Department of Transportation, passage of the proposed America Jobs Act would significantly reduce payroll taxes, provide $60 billion for infrastructure improvements (for rail, roads, highways, transit, ports and bridges), and tax credits to help the long-term unemployed and veterans (among others), get back into the workforce.

Speakers noted the international influences affecting the US economy’s slow growth, including the recent setbacks in the economic recovery plan due to oil price fluctuations.  European economic complexities and the continued debt limit debate are also major factors leading to economic uncertainty here in the US.

On the home front, Senator Chuck Schumer pointed out the huge debt accumulated not only at the federal level but also in regard to individual American’s personal finances: household debt excluding mortgage indebtedness should never be more than 100% of household income. In 2007, that ratio was at 137% and in 2011 the ratio declined to 115%, so there is still room for improvement. Speakers also discussed deficit reduction plans; the need to simplify the tax code and attending to the country’s housing foreclosure crisis.

Secretary LaHood, when asked about interstate highway tolling proposals which were recently offered as a potential revenue resource for the State of RI, indicated that he supports tolling only if it increases the capacity of the highways and that he did not support cutting subsidies to Amtrak.   

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