Rhode Island was ranked one of the worst states in the country for business under President Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of commerce, Fox News reported.
Under Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, WalletHub ranked the state last on its 2019 “Best & Worst States To Start A Business” list and CNBC ranked it the 48th worst state for commerce on its 13th annual “America’s Top States For Business” guide in 2015, according to Fox News.
The state faced an $800 million federal deficit at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Providence Journal reported in May 2020.
Rhode Island’s unemployment rate sits at 8.1% as of December 2020, according to the Rhode Island Department Of Labor And Training, just above the national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics January report.
A Rhode Island commerce agency spokesperson told Fox News that Raimando’s first year in office saw large investments in commercial real estate and that the state was one of the few to continue construction and manufacturing through the pandemic.
“We have stopped the decline, and together we have ignited a comeback of this great state and our economy,” Gov. Raimondo said in her State of the State address on Jan. 15, according to Fox News.
Gov. Raimondo’s RhodeWorks policy, intended to create jobs by funding infrastructure, charged tractor-trailer drivers tolls up to $20 on a single trip and $40 in a single day for traveling through the state, according to CNBC.
“We need funds for improved infrastructure, better roads, safer roads, safer bridges, which also creates jobs,” she said during her confirmation hearing, according to Fox News.
American Trucking Association filed a lawsuit against the initiative, calling it unconstitutional, according to CNBC. The suit was dismissed by a federal judge and the ATA has appealed.
Some of Rhode Island’s economic issues are due to its size, lack of a railroad network and few higher education institutions, according to CNBC.
Raimondo’s Senate confirmation hearing took place on Tuesday.