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Demand Rhode Island tax dollars create quality, local jobs

This petition had 187 supporters

While $54 million of Rhode Islander's tax dollars were very famously squandered in the 38 Studios debacle, there are tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money given out every year to wealthy developers that hire construction companies that cheat their workers, exploit immigrant laborers, engage in tax fraud and expose their workers and surrounding communities to asbestos through improper abatement.

Recently, near Olneyville, improper asbestos and lead abatement was documented on a property owned by Brady Sullivan Properties - a construction project financed by half a million dollars of tax credits. The workforce on the site was from out-of-state, were unaware of the dangers the lead they were working with could impose on themselves and their families and were being paid substandard wages on top of it.

Now, Buff Chase is building market-rate housing in Downtown Providence using an out-of-state construction company that has repeatedly hired subcontractors who engage in wage theft, tax fraud, child labor, immigrant exploitation and worker misclassification. Callahan Inc., the construction company, recently settled a lawsuit regarding improper abatement of asbestos on the grounds of an operating YMCA. Last year in Fall River, a gas line was ruptured on a Callahan jobsite and local schools had to be evacuated by the fire department. The project Callahan is working on is being funded by nearly $20 million of tax credits - almost 40 percent of the project. As taxpayers, we shouldn't be responsible for funding this slap in the face to our community, our workforce and our children.

When tax dollars or tax credits are used to finance wealthy developers with little regard for their workforce, all of Rhode Island loses. We miss out on proper payroll tax revenue, the workers' income tax revenue and the benefit of quality community jobs.

We, the undersigned, petition legislators and the Commerce Corporation to take Rhode Island's working class into account and include strict provisions for accountability on the construction site or in the selection of general contractors when the public is funding development through our many tax incentive programs. 

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