Rep. Dan P. Reilly (Republican, Dist. 72 - Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth) is not the ordinary new college graduate. This spring, Reilly not only graduated from Providence College with a bachelor's degree in general studies, but he also announced his plans to run for a second term.
“I’ve had what I’d like to say a pretty aggressive freshman term,” said Reilly. “I’m in the minority party, but that certainly doesn’t mean that I don’t have a voice.”
Reilly serves on six committees. The 23-year-old Portsmouth resident will attend Roger Williams Law School in the fall. When Reilly is not in the classroom or at the State House, he also serves as a volunteer EMT on the Bristol Fire Department.
After losing his first election in 2008, he said he learned how to run a more successful campaign, which led to his election in 2010.
“Quite frankly, I realized the rookie mistakes I made,” said Rep. Reilly.
Individuals who led successful campaigns told him the most important strategy is to knock on doors. He took that advice, and focused on more effective scheduling in order to reach more neighborhoods.
“We have a lot of military around here,” said Reilly about the need to reach out to absentee voters.
When he connected with the community during his last campaign, he found that his new face worked in his favor.
“It helped that there was a general attitude that people are just sick and tired of the way things are being done in this state. I think they still have that attitude, rightfully so,” he said.
Reilly said he feels his freshman year has gone well, but said there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We still have an unsustainable tax climate,” said Reilly. “The tax reform that happened before I got there, hasn’t gotten the job done.”
He believes Rhode Island needs to encourage new businesses with tax incentives, and not “debacles” like the Economic Development Corporation ‘s (EDC) deal with 38 Studios.
Last year, the EDC persuaded Red Sox Pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, to come to Providence with a $75-million loan guarantee. The company , which may leave Rhode Island taxpayers on the hook for tens of millions of dollars.
Reilly said with the appropriate tax incentives, the EDC would play a minimal role in Rhode Island.
He said specifically, he would like to cut the capital gains tax. In 2009, the state increased the capital gains tax to close a $590 budget deficit. Former Governor Donald L. Carcieri criticized the budget as “short-sighted” and said the tax increase will discourage businesses.
“By virtue of having these taxes in place, we discourage businesses from coming in,” agreed Reilly. “When you look at the actual revenue generated by the taxes, it’s actually quite low in comparison to the rest of the budget, because we don’t have the businesses here.”
He said since 2009, the capital gains tax brought in around $15 million.
“At some point, we will have to make a decision. Why don’t we cut our losses, take some revenue hits, if that means more money in the hands of business owners,” he said.
Reilly added that he believes moves by the governor over the past two years have been “disastrous.” Reilly referred to the expansion of sales tax, expansion of meals and beverage tax and bridge tolls as examples that would harm local business.
“It’s definitely not the path we need to be going down,” stated Reilly.
He said while these concerns are issues the governor will need to address, he will have no problem “being a thorn in his side,” if re-elected.