Raimondo: Budget Shortfall Will Cause Some Social Service Cuts

May 16, 2017

Governor Raimondo considers a question from The Providence Journal's Katherine Gregg.
Credit Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo said some cuts to human service programs are likely due to a nearly $100 million shortfall in state revenue.

"I don’t see how you get through this without some cuts to social services just because that’s so big [a part] of the budget," Raimondo said during a conversation with reporters Tuesday. "But we can’t balance this budget exclusively on the backs of the most vulnerable. We can find ways to tighten our belts, but we have to be humane about it."

The governor said Rhode Island's budget outlook compares favorably with the neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut. She declined to offer specifics on how the state should overcome the revenue shortfall reported last week, but said that preserving programs that help to create jobs should be spared from cutting.

Raimondo said she holds out hope the legislature will pass at least part of her plan to offer free college tuition to Rhode Islanders. She also questioned the affordability of phasing out the car tax over multiple years, the top priority of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.

With the PawSox set to unveil plans Tuesday afternoon for a new stadium in Pawtucket, Raimondo said the team appears headed in the right direction. She declined to comment in detail ahead of a news conference being staged by the PawSox at 2:30 p.m.

In response to questions from reporters, Raimondo called for Providence City Council President Luis Aponte, who was indicted on two felony charges last week, to step down from his leadership post.

"I don't have much to say," she said when asked how her predecessor, former governor Lincoln Chafee, has been raising his profile through a series of interviews in recent weeks. "People keep asking me, 'why is he doing this? Why is he doing this?' I really don't know why he's doing it.  I don't. What I do know is, for every almost every month of the year I ran for office we had the highest unemployment rate in America, and now we have the lowest unemployment rate that we've had in 15, 16 years. So I'm leading the state in a direction that is leading to more opportunity, more jobs and better jobs."