RI Budget Impasse Could End With Senate Vote As Soon As Next Week

Jul 19, 2017

Ruggerio (center) and Mattiello with Governor Raimondo at a news conference in 2015.
Credit Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

The Rhode Island budget stalemate that flared on June 30 may be approaching an end.

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio now supports bringing back senators to vote on the budget as soon as next week, according to spokesman Peter Capineri. "The president is going to start talking to members today to find out when they’re available," Capineri said via email Wednesday. "I do not believe any decision will be made today."

It appears the Senate would vote on the House version of the budget.

After not talking for about two weeks after the budget impasse began, Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello met privately Tuesday evening. The conversation appears to closed the differences between the two top lawmakers.

“I’m cautiously optimistic after our very productive meeting," Mattiello said in a statement. "I believe the Senate president has the best interests of Rhode Islanders at heart and he has always been a great leader. We discussed issues and concerns that the Senate President and the Senate had. I fully expect us to move forward in a collaborative manner.” 

Mattiello has indicated he'd be open to a special fall legislative session to consider bills left hanging, if the Senate signs off on the House budget.

The impasse on the state's new $9.2 billion budget began June 30 when the Senate tried adding a last-minute amendment. Ruggerio said the amendment -- to freeze a car tax phaseout if state revenue plunges -- was needed to protect taxpayers, but Mattiello panned it as a power grab by the Senate. The Senate passed its version of the budget, but the House left without voting on it.

It remains unclear what precisely caused the conflict between Ruggerio and Mattiello.

Also unclear for now is how the two legislative leaders will address the issue of the amendment previously backed by Ruggerio.