Rebecca Schiff Concerned With Ruggiero’s Voting Record on Small Business 

(The following Letter To The Editor has been submitted by Rebecca Schiff, Candidate for R.I. District 74 (Jamestown & Middletown). The views and opinions expressed within are not necessarily those of What’sUpNewp or our advertisers, sponsors and advertisers.)

How can the chair of the House Small Business Committee have a voting record that has consistently gone against the interests of small businesses? As the Republican candidate for the District 74 seat representing Jamestown and Middletown in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, I am troubled by Rep. Deb Ruggiero’s small business voting record from the National Federation for Independent Businesses, which is Rhode Island’s largest small business organization.

The organization’s 2015-2016 analysis that looks at legislators’ roll call votes on key small business issues aims to help voters evaluate “your legislator’s attitudes toward small business.” My opponent got a dismal 50 percent rating from the NFIB two years in a row – in both the 2013-14 and 2015-16 legislative sessions.

It boggles the mind that my opponent would be tapped by the Speaker to lead the Small Business Committee when her record shows that she has been on the wrong side of legislation that can make or break Rhode Island’s small businesses. Instead of voting in the interest of small businesses, she is working against them.

The NFIB report, which looks at 11 pieces of legislation that would either help or harm Rhode Island small businesses, shows that Ruggiero voted against the interests of small business on six of the 11 bills that the NFIB deemed as significant to the interests of small businesses during the 2015-16 legislative session.

Perhaps most egregious was Ruggiero’s strong support for the state road tolling for trucks legislation, known as RhodeWorks. Ruggiero not only voted for Gov. Gina Raimondo’s shortsighted plan, but was a key advocate for the tolling plan and helped ram it through the legislature. This may cost us even more jobs and drive up the costs of goods and services for all consumers. Residents are concerned that the next RhodeWorks money grab will involve tolling passenger cars, too.

Also, Ruggiero voted in favor of legislation that increases the state’s already sky-high energy costs for residents and businesses alike. How unaccountable is our leadership to the real-life needs of Rhode Islanders? Our electricity bills are among the highest in the nation, but the legislature continues to enact increased fees that continue to make our utility bills get higher. I would favor a more balanced energy portfolio that relies on both plentiful natural gas-generated electricity, along with renewable energy sources, reducing the burden on Rhode Islanders’ wallets and helping to make the state more competitive with other regions.

As a small business owner, I understand the challenges facing Rhode Island’s small businesses. As businesses close, downsize or flee to neighboring states due to the high cost of doing business in Rhode Island and the burdensome and unpredictable regulatory climate, state government refuses to address this crisis seriously. Instead, the special interests that run amok in our Statehouse squeeze the remaining businesses and residents with every tax and fee imaginable. Rather than making fiscally responsible decisions and demanding results for taxpayers’ money, they divert your dollars to the black hole that is the General Fund and make excuses. I will be a true champion of small businesses and hard-working Rhode Islanders.

Rebecca Schiff
Candidate for R.I. District 74, Jamestown

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).