With 18 new members in the 113-seat General Assembly, On Politics is offering a periodic look at the latest additions to the House and Senate. We start with Representative Daniel Reilly (R-Portsmouth), who first won election in 2010, lost his seat in 2012, and is now back after defeating Democrat Linda Finn.
Favorite Food: "Can't beat a good cheeseburger."
Favorite TV Show: Walking Dead/British version of House of Cards.
Why did you want to return to the House? Well, I was really energized by the two years I had here. I thought there was a lot of unfinished business that both myself and my colleagues had really started on. I was also really excited with the change in leadership. I thought that this House will be capable of doing a lot of things that we just didn’t want to do or couldn’t have done previously when I was here, so I thought it was worth the run again. And of course, I think my constituents were fairly familiar with me [with me] having run several times before, successfully and unsuccessfully. Also, having had that experience under my belt I was able to run a campaign, I think, making fewer mistakes than I had in previous races.
What living political figure do you most admire, and why? I'll say Bill Clinton, even though I'm a Republican, because I think there are a lot of parallels with him being a Democrat coming from a Southern state that didn't always share his politics, but he was able to win races, lose races, then come back again, and I think there are a lot of parallels I can draw from my personal experience, even though I'm just a legislator and he was governor at the time.
What are your top goals for the session? I share the speaker's goal in eliminating the tax on Social Security and pension income. I’d like to see that extended to military pensions. I would also like to see us continue that tax-cutting mantra to people who are here, who are younger, who are still in the workforce, who are starting businesses. And I’d like to see us really start reducing the corporate income tax beyond what they did previously. When they did combined reporting along with the reduction in the rate, we really didn't see a substantive decrease in the corporate income tax, so I'd like to see us actually do that, so businesses can see a real impact in their bottom line, and that would certainly start off with eliminating that minimum $500 tax.
The best thing about Rhode Island is _______? Our size. I think the biggest advantage we have is the fact that we do know each other, our communities are close-knit. I think that from an economic development perspective, it's much easier for us to raise per-capita income and net disposable income for your average Rhode Islander in a smaller state than in a bigger state. And the challenges we have are certainly quite immense, but I think they're much more manageable here than in a much larger state.
The worst thing about Rhode Island is ________? I don't want to say our size, but it also creates a challenge when trying to diversify our economy, and our natural resources are really limited to our scenic beauty. But when it comes time to balancing a budget, we have fewer options. We really have to rely on fewer businesses that are here and we have to rely on fewer people that are here, and we just don't as much leeway and flexibility that other states may have, so it's a challenge as much as an advantage.
Fun Fact: Fellow Republicans like to tease Reilly about aspiring to one day be governor or a US senator. Reilly's take: "I very much enjoy being in the legislature. At some point, if I could move to a different office and do great things there, I certainly would be open to that. But at this point, we have a term to finish out in the legislature. I'm certainly going to running for re-election for two years, so whatever happens down the road happens down the road."