Bills Aim to End "Brain Drain" in RI, Incentivize Grads to Stay

Tim Goral's picture
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Two bills in the Rhode Island General Assembly aim to tackle what has become known as the “brain drain” -- the emigration of educated people with specific skill sets -- plaguing Rhode Island.

Senator Ryan Pearson (D-Cumberland, Lincoln) and Rep. Chris Blazejewski (D-Providence) have introduced legislation that would incentivize college graduates to stay in Rhode Island after completion of their schooling.

Senator Pearson’s bill has been dubbed the “Stay Invested in Rhode Island Tax Credit,” which would give college grads a tax credit on personal income taxes for those who reside and work in Rhode Island for up to ten years after graduation. The credit would be based upon the principal balance of the student’s loans.

“Legislation is all about solving problems, and this bill provides solutions for two,” Pearson said in a statement.

A recent study found that Rhode Island students have the fourth highest student loan debt in the country. Pearson said the bill would help students pay off their loans while stimulating the local economy.

“The fact is we are in the midst of a brain drain in Rhode Island, and having some of our best minds leaving to go find work outside of our borders is negatively impacting our recovery process as a state,” said Pearson.

A recent report by WPRI.com showed that 10 percent of Rhode Islanders in their ‘prime working-age’ have left the state over the past several years to find jobs elsewhere. Pearson said his bill would give Rhode Island a competitive edge over its neighbors; he is unaware of any other state with similar legislation.

“We need to do more to retain our college graduates,” said Pearson. “This bill provides them a real financial incentive to stay while giving employers an advantage that will help them create new jobs.”

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