There is no question, many Rhode Island Businesses are struggling. Some business owners have no choice but to close because of state mandates. Other business owners have been forced to make unbudgeted investments into their businesses to protect their employees and their customers during this difficult time.

But, in the wake of unprecedented economic and social turmoil; when businesses through no fault of their own were mandated to close their doors, but were given no reprieve from making their quarterly tax payments to the state. When the Governor unilaterally dictated how business could reopen with no oversight from the general assembly. When unelected bureaucrats at the RI Department of Health instituted unfunded mandates forcing struggling businesses to comply with many times arbitrary guidelines. The same Health Department that is exempting government run schools from those very same guidelines because they don’t even meet basic health standards. Is our state government really the best entity to help us during any crisis?

Our Governor seemingly was planning on holding back ALL of the funds earmarked for small businesses as part of the $1.25 billion Rhode Island received in federal CARES Act aid. It wasn’t until a coalition of small businesses started an online petition seeking 10% or $125,000 million in direct assistance to Rhode Island small businesses. Instead, the Governor is only providing $76 million and they are not even going to have the applications ready until early August.

Businesses will then have to justify their expenses on RI Commerce Corporation “approved” purchases – even though most businesses have already made the cash outlay to retrofit their businesses months ago. By the time the state’s bureaucracy has time to collect, evaluate, and distribute the funds it’s going to be September! What has the Governor been doing with that money since it became available in late March?

The truth is the Governor was hoping to use that money to fill holes in the state budget – even though federal guidelines disallow the money to be used for that purpose. She decided to let our small businesses wave in the wind while she desperately tried to find any way to fix our growing budget deficit without having to cut government spending.

When Billy Hunt is elected he will fight for small businesses to get the help they deserve. We are passing on the federal debt we are acquiring off to our future generations, let’s at least make sure those funds are going to the small businesses it is intended for. Not into the hands of politicians who only want to spend our money on what they need to keep control and themselves in power.

We need to audit our state budget to cut wasteful spending. And, once we get our state spending under control, we don’t need to spend that money on other wasteful government spending, we need to give that money back to the taxpayers so they can get direct economic stimulus without the need for perpetual government intervention.

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