Governor Gina Raimondo ramped up attention on Rhode Island's month-old budget impasse by meeting Thursday with more than 24 city and town leaders.
"As we approach the one month mark of the budget impasse, students, parents and teachers, and our cities and towns could get hurt," Raimondo said, according to comments provided by the governor's office. "Mayors, town managers and their residents are counting on members of the General Assembly to come back to work and finish their job."
In related news, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio held the latest in a series of meetings Thursday. In a possible sign of early steps toward a solution, Ruggerio plans to assemble a Senate caucus, possibly next week, to discuss the situation.
Raimondo's meeting with mayors and town managers signaled that she's taking a more active and public role in trying to bring an end to the budget impasse.
Since the state is operating for now under last year's budget, cities and towns are poised to receive less state education aid. The anticipated launch of a car tax phase-out also remains on hold.
According to the governor's office, the state is slated to make several payments to municipalities early next week: monthly school aid payment, a quarterly reimbursement for the car tax exemption and annual PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) payments. Raimondo also emphasized that cities and towns may not receive retroactive payments for lost revenue, if the impasse continues.
The stalemate erupted at the expected close of the General Assembly session on June 30, when the Senate tried amending the budget with what supporters called a taxpayer safeguard on the car tax. Speaker Mattiello called the move a power grab and told his members to leave, so the state was left without a new budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.
The local officials attending the meeting with Raimondo at the Statehouse includes Mayors Lisa Baldelli Hunt of Woonsocket; James Diossa of Central Falls; Allan Fung of Warwick; Joe Polisena of Johnston; Jorge Elorza of Providence; and Scott Avedisian of Warwick. Also present were town managers and other officials from a number of other communities.
This story has been updated.