Note to Washington State: Same-Sex Marriage in Rhode Island Would Increase State Budget

Note to Washington State: Same-Sex Marriage in Rhode Island Would Increase State Budget

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The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law has releaed a research study indicating that allowing same-sex couples to marry in Rhode Island would boost the state budget by more than $1 million over three years. Will Washington follow suit?

“Rhode Island would provide much needed protections to its same-sex couples if they were allowed to marry.  Opening up marriage to same-sex couples would also boost Rhode Island’s economy and state budget with new tax revenue and spending,” explains study co-author M. V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute and professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

In calculating the net benefit to the State, the study predicts that half of Rhode Island’s 2,097 same-sex couples, or 1,048 couples, will be married within three years after the legislation is passed. This estimate includes about 440 couples who may have already married in the neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut, which allow same-sex couples to wed.

Most of the new revenue to the state is gained through increased income taxes paid by married same-sex couples. “Some same-sex couples with children would pay more in taxes if they married,” explains study co-author, Craig Konnoth.

The state’s public assistance expenditures will also drop, since a spouse’s financial assets are taken into account when assessing eligibility for public assistance.  Many individuals in same-sex couples who currently receive public assistance will no longer need or qualify for cash assistance upon marrying their partner. Further, as study co-author Jody Herman notes, “Sales taxes obtained through increased wedding spending will bring in over $400,000 to the state coffers over three years. Marriage license fees would also account for some of the revenue gains.”

The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policymakers and the public. This study can be accessed at the Williams Institute website, www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute.

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