House and Senate GOP Stand with Lt. Governor in Call for Immediate Release of COVID funds to Support RI Small Business
State House, Providence – Rhode Island House and Senate Republicans unanimously stand with Lt. Governor Dan McKee and RI small business coalitions across the state, calling on Governor Raimondo to immediately allocate federal COVID-19 relief funds to help save Rhode Island’s struggling small and micro business enterprises. An online petition has launched, urging the State to allocate at least 10% of the $125B Cares Act funding for small business grants.
“This money isn’t a slush fund for the Governor to give no-bid contracts to her financial supporters and friends,” said Minority Whip Michael Chippendale, referring to the recently discovered $2M no-bid Boston consultant fee procured by Governor Raimondo. “The funding was created for RI Small and Micro Businesses that are struggling greatly under this current crisis.”
A clause within the act specifically outlines how states can allocate these funds to help small businesses affected by the pandemic. States like New Hampshire, Alaska, Wisconsin, Mississippi and others have already leveraged this clause, some allocating up to $400M in funds for their small business community.
“We must save our mom and pop businesses. They are the backbone of our local economy in providing jobs and tax revenues,” said State Representative and small business owner, George Nardone. “Many Rhode Island family livelihoods are at stake.”
“It is time to make our small business community a priority,” said Senator Jessica de la Cruz. “Communities all across our state are suffering due to the loss in revenues generated from the abrupt cut off of commerce.”
Dozens of long-standing Rhode Island businesses have already closed their doors due to the financial strains the COVID restrictions placed on small and micro business operations.
“It is unconscionable that the Governor would hold back these designated relief funds from small business owners who desperately need the help now,” said House Republican Leader Blake Filippi. “We promise to do everything in our power to get this funding out to our small business community – with the goal of giving a much needed boost to our economy.”
“The stress of being ignored by our Government leaders, first by only allowing box stores to maintain their businesses during the pandemic shutdown, and now, the burden of trying to stay afloat during partial openings, is beyond belief for any business owner,” said Representative Robert Quattrocchi, a former owner of multiple small businesses in the State of Rhode Island. “Small and micro businesses employ over 200,000 Rhode Islanders – we are in big trouble if these businesses are not sustained. We are proud to join the Lt. Governor’s effort to recognize this need in our struggling economy.”
“Through no fault of their own, small business owners have been thrust into massive amounts of debt during the pandemic closures,” said Senator Thomas Paolino. “We owe them a bit of relief for their sacrifices to keep us all safe.”
“We need to join other states in prioritizing resources to reenergize our local economy,” said Representative Jack Lyle, Jr. “Let’s for once put RI at the top of a national list and be recognized as a leader, by helping out small businesses with assistance grants to pay the mounting bills greatly impacted by COVID, such as mortgages, maintaining inventory, and taxes.”
“The financial debt will continue to mount, despite the partial openings,” said Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere. “The slow-to-build customer flow is going to persist in impacting our small businesses in the months ahead.”
“The remedy is simple,” said Representative Justin Price. “It is time for the Governor to stop withholding this important lifeline for our small businesses and use these funds for their intended purposes. The fact that we have waited this long to start a RI small business grant relief program is unfathomable.”
Members of the RI House and Senate Republican Caucuses have long been the voice of the small and micro business community at the State House. In 2019, the House and Senate Republican Caucuses fought for the statutory reduction in the state sales tax from 7% to 6.5%; introduced legislation exempting virtual currency from taxation; and championed small business assistance with the raised federal tax, which passed into statute. The House and Senate GOP also successfully rallied against proposed new taxes and fees for funeral homes, hotels, hunting or shooting ranges, interior design businesses and commercial building services; and exempted natural hair braiders from a requirement for licensure. During the abbreviated 2020 session, House and Senate Republicans championed a reduction in the corporate sales tax from $400 to $250; supported the Real Jobs RI Program; introduced the “Freedom to Travel and Work Act,” which creates a regulatory framework to accept out-of-state professional business licenses to work in Rhode Island; and actively campaigned against the proposal to join the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which would have raised the gas tax, making the cost of doing business in RI more expensive.
To join House and Senate Republicans in signing the petition, please visit https://www.change.org/p/office-of-governor-gina-raimondo-governor-raimondo-allocate-federal-covid-19-relief-funds-to-save-ri-small-businesses-now
For more information, contact:
Sue Stenhouse, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903