As tonight’s budget debate in the R.I. House creaks along, some sharp-eyed lawmakers should be asking some hard questions about the item for a capital budget request of more than $3 million to purchase a vacant lot near the State House wedged between the Veterans Memorial Auditorium and the state employee credit union building. . The provision was put in by Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s administration and originally proposed paying $3.5 million for the land, according to fiscal analysis done by House financial staffers.
The Rhode Island House of Representations is set to begin debating Tuesday an 8-billion-dollar budget for the fiscal year starting July first. The budget includes two and a half million dollars to repay bonds for failed video game maker 38 Studios.
Advocates for Rhode Island’s cities and towns are criticizing the budget passed Tuesday by the House Finance Committee. The Finance Committee cut a planned increase in state aid to local communities.
The Finance Committee cut back a hike in local aid proposed by Governor Lincoln Chafee in his budget. The associate head of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns, Peder Schaefer, also serves on Woonsocket’s budget commission. He said the reduced aid will hurt struggling communities.
The Young Democrats of Rhode Island are slapping the older Democrats in their party who run the Statehouse. In a statement, the Young Democrats take issue with the proposed state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that won House Finance Committee approval.
While the group ``commended’’ the Assembly for adding money for the state’s school funding formula and restoring funding for developmentally disabled citizens, the Young Democrats skewered other budget priorities.
The business community is applauding a proposed cut in Rhode Island’s corporate tax rate.
In his latest budget, Governor Lincoln Chafee calls for cutting the corporate tax from 9 to 7 percent over three years.
Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce head Laurie White calls that a smart move. “It would be a welcome change. It’s not a game-changer. There are lots of factors that contribute to positive business climate rankings and profile, but this is certainly a welcome step.”
A pre-session House Finance Committee meeting this afternoon offered a mix of good news and bad news: a larger than expected current-year surplus of about $47 million will roughly cut in half the deficit for the budget year starting next July 1, from $130 million to $70 million.
But the state’s structural deficit could grow to about $400 million in five years, due in part to overspending in some state departments. In an interview following the meeting, House Finance chairman Helio Melo said the state needs to be more disciplined: