RI state budget

Rhode Island’s largest legal gambling venue, Twin River Casino, is so far fending off a challenge to its gambling revenue from a new competitor, the Plainridge slot parlor in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported today that in July, the first full month of operation at the former horse-racing track, that the slot machines and electronic table games harvested $18.1 million in gambling revenue.


Rhode Island’s General Assembly and Gov. Gina Raimondo have reached agreement on her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what the new budget will do and what it lacks.

The $8.7 billion state budget for the financial year that begins three days before the Bristol 4th of July parade  seems greased for approval at the Statehouse. As is usually the case, this spending and taxing plan contains elements Rhode Islanders should cheer yet   fails to address some of our little state’s crying needs.

RIPR file photo

The latest version of the state budget would cut nearly $1 million from the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, but most of the governor's other education programs remain intact.

In a written statement, acting Education Commissioner David Abbot praised the budget for increasing aid to school districts, expanding funding for preschool and all-day Kindergarten and boosting aid for school construction.

However, he expressed concerns about an $800,000 cut to the State Department of Education.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The House Finance Committee is slated to vote Tuesday on the budget for the fiscal year beginning July first. As is usually the case the House makes some changes to the spending plan introduced by the governor.

The House Finance budget is not expected to include truck tolls proposed by Governor Gina Raimondo to help pay for bridge improvements. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says more information is needed about the plan. The budget does include funding for HealthSource RI, the state’s version of Obamacare, as well as economic incentives meant to spark economic growth.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Mark and Dave speak to Virginia Burke, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Healthcare Association, which represents nursing homes. The group has questioned a plan to cut millions of dollars in state Medicaid spending.

Burke tells Mark and Dave that cuts to Medicaid would likely lead to layoffs for nursing home staff, which could degrade the quality of patient care.

Rhode Island motorists will see a small increase of one-cent in the gasoline tax on July 1, 2015 to account for inflation, according to the state Department of Revenue.

This tax, known commonly as the state "gas tax" will increase from 32 to 33 cents per gallon, based on calculations from the state Division of Taxation. This adjustment is required under state law.


So Twin River’s parent company wants to build a new casino in Tiverton.   The idea is likely to raise a few eyebrows, but RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says it  has to be done.

There are many Rhode Islanders who don’t believe that state government should be in the business of promoting gambling. Those critics point out the lottery games and slot-machine emporiums that speckle New England like daffodils these days are little more than cheap taxes on the poor.

The last budget crafted by former Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s administration and the General Assembly seems to be holding up fairly well, according to the latest revenue assessment by the Rhode Island  Department of Revenue.

The official state bean-counters say that adjusted total general revenues are up about $61 million more than expected in the current budget year, which ends on June 30. This is good news for a state that has been slowly emerging from the recession.

The 2.6 percent increase in revenues is fueled by increases in the personal income tax and the corporate tax.

Some good news from the Rhode Island Department of Revenue: The latest budget numbers from state government show state revenues up nearly $50 million ahead of projections.

Rosemary Gallogly, the outgoing director of revenue, said in a statement that year-to-date revenues are up about $47 million above the estimates.

The revenue growth has been fueled largely by an increase in personal income tax money. That could be a sign that the economy is gaining traction as Rhode Island’s slow recovery from the recession picks up steam.

More than 75 Rhode Islanders packed a small meeting room at the Peacedale Public Library Monday, to share their suggestions for improving Medicaid while cutting costs. It was one in a series of town hall meetings held by the task force charged with finding $90 million dollars in savings in the program. Nurse Patricia Mackie told organizers how meeting a client’s basic needs first can help prevent expensive hospital stays.

“Cash to pay for prescriptions, clothing, furniture from the furniture bank, finding him an apartment.”

Gov. Gina Raimondo joins RIPR Political Roundtable tomorrow for a discussion of her first budget and other topics. She talks about the Taylor Swift tax, the Medicaid cuts, the medical insurance tax, her economic development proposals, thePawSox move and more. Tune in tomorrow morning for Political Roundtable and Bonus Q &A with the governor and panelists Ian Donnis, Scott MacKay and Maureen Moakley. If you miss it, the entire interview with be posted at RIPR.org

Gov. Gina  Raimondo’s first budget proposes stripping about $2.5 million in state Payments-in-lieu of Taxes aid from Providence city government and another $1.1 million in such payments from Cranston. If you believe the General Assembly is going to allow these cuts you probably believe in the Easter Bunny.

Raimondo’s problem: The communities being hit on this one happen to be home to two of the most influential state lawmakers –House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston, and House Majority Leader John DeSimone, D-Providence.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo’s budget proposal includes some new initiatives for the environment, including a larger role for the state’s Clean Water Finance Agency. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison to discuss the environmental impact of the budget.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay looks at the politics of our new governor’s taxing and spending plan.

It’s difficult to argue with the rhetoric behind our new governor’s $8.6 billion budget plan. In her televised address from the Statehouse last Thursday evening, Raimondo outlined her goals in a convincing fashion, hitting all the high notes.  Her smorgasbord of ideas provides a little something for everyone.


Gov. Gina Raimondo is scheduled to release her first state budget on Thursday. Part of the challenge is to slash a projected $190 million deficit.  So what will get cut? RIPR Political Analyst Scott MacKay tells us what to watch out for.

There is that ancient Statehouse cliché: If you want to figure out what a governor’s priorities are, check out the budget. Rhode Islanders get their first look at what our new governor, Gina Raimondo, values when she releases her spending and taxing plan for state government on Thursday.