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Letter to Representative Blazejewski

The Political Roundtable on RI NPR featured Representative Chris Blazejewski, who represents RI District 2, and he spoke on a number of issues, one of which was the car tax.

Opposing a repeal of the car tax is a top concern of Transport Providence, as outlined in our Resolutions for a Better PVD list for 2017. Rep. Blazejewski is not my representative (I'm in Aaron Regunberg's district, and I hope he'll lead on this issue), but since he's speaking on this issue I wanted to express my thoughts on the issue. You should too if you're in his district, or you can look up who does represent you.

Here's my sample letter:
Dear Representative, 
I heard your interview on RI NPR today, and wanted to register my disagreement with your stance on the car tax. As someone whose household has to pay the car tax, I obviously don't love it, but I support keeping it. 
I commend your position of returning funds to working class households, and think your idea of an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit is a better idea. Many poor people do not own cars, so while some working class families certainly pay the car tax, it's not a precise way to target that group. The EITC would provide fungible support that people can use towards their car (or other things). The car tax repeal is not as fungible, since it ignores non-car owners. 
We have many environmental challenges, and many working class families give in to owning a car (or cars) because of poor RIPTA service. Why not focus there as well? 
The state faces a $110 million deficit, which is a third reason not to repeal the tax. Efforts to pass a single-payer bill or improve other existing programs will be rejected if the Assembly uses its political capital on this issue. People will say we simply don't have the money. 
I saw Katherine Gregg's tweet from July saying that you expressed many of these exact thoughts. Let me know how I can support educating constituents on this issue so you feel empowered to act. 
Thank you.

One of the panel members on the program, URI professor Maureen Moakley, said "Finally, who likes the car tax?" and proceeded to outline how no one in the political spectrum of Rhode Island finds reasons to support it. There was no counterpoint offered to this view, other than weak questioning about the deficit issue. 

One aspect of this issue I didn't originally include in this post, but which I'm adding now, is the strong correlation between Speaker Mattiello's campaigning on the promise to exclude undocumented immigrants from drivers' licenses, and his intense campaigning on making sure that those who own cars in the state don't pay taxes. Just as programs like Social Security were originally designed to exclude house-cleaners and farm workers, the "progressive" effort to give people a tax cut for each car they own seems to exclude a large community of color, by design.

From RI Future: Why do you supposed Speaker Mattiello would say "everyone pays the car tax" but intentionally exclude undocumented immigrants from driving?
The fact is that repealing the car tax as a form of income redistribution is an example of "A includes B, but A doesn't equal B" thinking. If we offered a tax cut to redheads on the basis that some redheads are poor, we'd be forgetting that many redheads are not poor, and many poor people have a color hair that isn't red. I feel for people (like my partner Rachel) who have low incomes and have to pay for a car tax, but a per-car tax cut means that people who own three Mercedes get a tax cut, and people who are poor and take the bus (or are excluded from having a drivers' license by racist drivers' license regulations) get no tax cut. This should be an absolute no vote for progressives concerned with true progressive income/racial justice.

I support the car tax, and my household has to pay for it. My entire adult life has been one that has placed me in an income bracket to received the EITC, but only a year of my life so far has been in a household that owns a car. Repealing the car tax would have never helped me until this year, while holding back on that repeal and strengthening direct support to all working class Rhode Islanders would have helped me all along. RI NPR needs to better represent the range of views on this issue. It's not an unquestioned consensus.


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