Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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Executive Order 97-03
February 5, 1997


WHEREAS, a financially viable telecommunications industry is important to Rhode Island's economic welfare; and

WHEREAS, the telecommunications industry has experienced rapid technological and regulatory changes over the last decade; and

WHEREAS, the taxation of telecommunications technologies throughout the fifty states has changed greatly, and there exists a need to compare Rhode Island's taxation of those technologies with taxation in other states; and

WHEREAS, the continued taxation of telecommunications technologies should be based on an equitable and rational public policy that recognizes the impact on consumers, and on the industries producing such technologies.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Lincoln Almond, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, do hereby order as follows:

1. There is established the Governor's Commission to Study Taxation of the Telecommunications Industry in Rhode Island.

2. The members of the Commission shall consist of the Director of the Department of Administration or designee, the Governor's Director of Policy or designee, the Director of the Economic Development Corporation or designee, the Tax Administrator, the Budget Officer or designee, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee or designee, the Chairman of the House Finance Committee or designee, the Administrator of the Division of Public Utilities & Carriers or designee, the chief elected, officer of a city or town and six members of the public to be appointed by the Governor.

3. The Commission shall study:

a) The tax ramifications of changes in telecommunications technologies and the regulatory framework governing those technologies; and

b) The administrative cost to businesses of complying with tax requirements on telecommunications technologies; and

c) The impact of taxation on the availability and affordability of telecommunications technologies; and

d) The impact of taxation of telecommunications technologies on state and local tax revenues; and

e) The extent to which a favorable tax climate will attract to Rhode Island businesses that provide or use telecommunications technologies, and the impact of taxation on the ability of these businesses to compete, grow and prosper here; and

f) The extent to which taxation may be avoided by out of state businesses, placing Rhode Island businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

4. The Commission shall consider all forms of telecommunication technologies and services which are provided through the use of such technologies/ including, but not limited to, voice, data, audio, and video.

5. The Commission, shall recommend tax policies which take into account revenue needs, the State's business climate, and other accepted tax policy goals, including fairness, ease of administration, enforceability and compliance.

6. Staff support for the Commission shall be provided by the Division of Taxation in the Department of Administration.

7. All state agencies shall cooperate and assist the Commission to the fullest extent possible.

8. The Commission shall issue a report to the Governor and Legislature no later than December 1, 1997, summarizing its findings, stating its conclusions, and recommending any statutory changes to the tax laws of the State.

This Executive Order shall take effect immediately upon the dates hereof.

Lincoln Almond