Bold Economic Acts Vowed, Small Steps Taken In RI

By DAVID KLEPPER and ERIKA NIEDOWSKI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) â¿¿ State leaders vowed urgent action this year to address Rhode Island's stubbornly high unemployment rate and an economy that has struggled for years.

Yet while other states debate sweeping tax overhauls or pass billion-dollar higher education expansions, legislators in Rhode Island have focused on smaller, incremental proposals.

Critics say that few of the dozens of economic bills that passed this session take significant steps to boost education or workforce training, lower housing costs, repair streets, reform the tax code or set up incentives to help businesses.

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed says improvement will take time. But critics say the state's efforts are focused too much on government bureaucracy and not on the problems that caused the state's long-term economic decline.
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