Former Senator Runs on Tax Reform in R.I.


Lincoln Chafee, a former Republican U.S. senator from Rhode Island, is running for governor — a job his father held — as an independent. He's also running on a plan to raise taxes.

The Republican-turned-independent announced his candidacy on Monday (Jan. 4) and immediately called for a two-tiered sales tax structure that would tax certain items, including food, clothing and over-the-counter drugs, that are now exempt. Chafee, whose father served as a Republican Rhode Island governor through most of the 1960s, said the plan would provide short-term budget relief for the cash-starved state while opening the door to a potential reduction in the overall sales tax rate in the future.

"Illinois has a 6.25-percent sales tax, but a separate 1-percent tax on food and over-the-counter drugs. Tennessee has a 7-percent sales tax, but a 5.5-percent tax on groceries. Working together, we can find the right formula for Rhode Island, one that provides the revenue we need to spare property taxpayers an ever-increasing burden, while taking into account the strain that families already feel from taxes," Chafee said, according to the Providence Journal .

The Journal noted that Chafee's proposal is a politically risky one, but is designed to bring in revenue in a state that has been ranked by the Pew Center on the States — of which is part — as one of the 10 in greatest fiscal danger.


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