Fung offers small business plan; Raimondo health care plan
CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) — GOP gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung on Wednesday said he would take a number of steps to help small businesses in Rhode Island if he is elected governor, including by eliminating the inheritance tax on smaller companies and reducing the interest rate on past-due taxes from 18 percent.
Fung, the mayor of Cranston, said during a news conference at a barber shop in his city that the state has for too long treated small business “like an ATM machine.”
He also proposed waiving the state’s $400 minimum tax for any small business that doesn’t make a profit, instituting a 10-year statute of limitations on the ability of the state to collect back taxes. He previously proposed reviewing the state’s occupational licensing, permitting, and business incorporation fees and making them the lowest in New England.
Fung said small businesses included any company with fewer than 100 employees.
A spokesman for Gov. Gina Raimondo, Mike Raia, responded by saying the Democratic governor had taken several steps since she was first elected in 2014 to help small businesses, including by creating a small business loan program, cutting regulations and instituting job training programs. Raia also touted the state’s low unemployment rate, which stood at 4 percent in August.
Later Wednesday, Raimondo held her own news conference to sign an executive order that, among other steps, directs the state to seek to codify in state law protections for people with preexisting conditions, dependents up to age 26, prescription drug benefits and maternity coverage in case federal action is taken to weaken the Affordable Care Act.
Rhode Island has one of the highest insured rates in the country, and Raimondo said she was defending “Rhode Islanders’ access to high-quality, affordable health coverage.”
Asked what he would do to protect health coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, Fung pointed out that he has a sister who is developmentally disabled.
“I would not make any changes to the existing exchange program, whether it’s pre-existing condition, taking away coverage, especially for college students or anything else,” Fung said. “I’m going to keep the exchange exactly how it is, our state exchange,” adding “I would absolutely do whatever I can to protect Rhode Island residents.”
He said he also would not support any changes to Medicaid eligibility.