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Fireworks could brighten up Rhode Island budget

Boston: The cash-strapped state of Rhode Island is hoping to turn residents` patriotic fervour into a boost in tax revenue this July 4th, after passing a law that legalizes small fireworks for individual use.

Fireworks, along with barbecues and parades, have long been a part of Independence Day celebrations across the country, and a growing number of states have moved to legalize small fireworks over the past decade in a bid to discourage people from buying larger, and more dangerous, illegal firecrackers and rockets.

Legislators in the nation`s smallest state have not estimated just how much tax revenue Rhode Island could generate from the law, which took effect on June 14. But state officials said sales of fireworks could reach into the millions of dollars annually, all of which would be subject to the state`s 7 percent sales tax.

The law allows small, ground-based fireworks like sparklers and fountains, but forbids rockets and anything that explodes.

"Used properly, small fireworks like these are a fun, exciting way for families to celebrate the holiday. Rhode Islanders shouldn`t have to sneak them over the border from another state," said State Representative J. Patrick O`Neill.

Neighbouring Connecticut also allows small, ground-based fireworks, while adjacent Massachusetts forbids them entirely.

Since Connecticut legalized small fireworks in 2000, it has fewer arrests for selling or using banned rockets and firecrackers, said Lieutenant J. Paul Vance of the state police.

"We think the sparkler thing has put some of that out of business," Vance said. "People who sell these devices in Connecticut call them `fireworks,` and that seems to satisfy people."

The states of New York, New Jersey and Delaware also ban fireworks entirely.

Rhode Island closed what had been projected to be a USD 427 million deficit in its USD 7.8 billion 2011 budget by cutting spending, including support to local city governments.

Bureau Report

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