AIMING FOR REFORM Puyana.
Tuesday, April 15 is Tax Day.
If you didn’t know this. . . well, you should probably stop reading and start doing your taxes. If you did, and your 1040s and W-4s and W-9s have long been filed, perhaps you’re gearing up for the Rhode Island Tea Party’s 5th anniversary rally on the State House lawn.
This year’s theme is going to be — no big surprise — “loving liberty and fighting tyranny,” according to new RITP President Mike Puyana, an occupational health and safety consultant who lives in Burrillville.
We spoke with Puyana over the phone to get a sense of what it’s like fighting for smaller government, lower taxes, and fewer gun regulations in one of the country’s bluest states.
Our conversation has been edited and condensed.
HOW WOULD RHODE ISLAND LOOK DIFFERENT UNDER A TEA PARTY ADMINISTRATION? We believe that the public assistance system is badly flawed in the way it’s applied. We would like to see it changed to stop the dependency cycle that keeps feeding the beast and have it be much more of what a man who ran for governor four years ago [said], “should be a trampoline, not a hammock.”
Our government would have much tighter controls and scrutiny for transparency and accountability issues. We would absolutely be aggressively pursuing full investigation of the 38 Studios debacle. We would be aggressively pursuing what appears to be a developing scandal and many questions about the Providence Economic Development Partnership.
Obviously, we need tax reform. We need a cut in our fundamental sales tax rate — a substantial cut, we believe. We believe we need cuts in our corporate tax rates. We should have cuts in our capital gains tax rates. We should get rid of that highly insulting $500 minimum corporate tax every year that a business entity has to pay, regardless of whether or not they turned a profit. We have way too many taxes on business.
Our regulatory process is far too convoluted and complicated. . . it’s redundant. I’ve lost count of the number of businesses I’ve gone into where I look at the wall and I’m amazed at the number of different permits they have to have for this, that, and everything else. Every one of those permits will cost this business money and drive up their cost of doing business, and, therefore, it drives up the overall cost of living. It gives people less disposable income.
We [also] need an increase in our estate tax exemption. Right now the threshold is a little over $900,000. It should be at least double that. I’d love to see it go to $3 or $4 or even $5 million to encourage retirees to stay here so they can protect their hard-earned earnings.
We believe if Tea Party principles were running this state, we would have far lower unemployment. We would have far better income levels. We would have far fewer people who are in the situation where they might have at least a temporary need of public assistance.