Does the General Assembly ever cut its budget? On at least one recent occasion, yes.
The legislature’s spending for the fiscal year that ended June 30 (fiscal 2012) was cut by $3 million, according to information presented during a House Finance Committee meeting Wednesday. House spokesman Larry Berman offered this explanation:
This includes $1.2 million in personnel savings and $1.2 million in unused grants that were not appropriated. It also includes $500,000 in unused funds that were slated for technological upgrades and other improvements to enhance transparency and timely accessibility to information for members, staff and the public.
The projects did not move as quickly as anticipated and certain basic system and infrastructure changes needed to be completed first. Many of these projects are in process will be completed in FY 2013.
Berman acknowledges it’s unusual for the General Assembly to return money to the state general fund, as it did for fiscal 2012. Leftover money is usually rolled into the next legislative budget.
Governor Lincoln Chafee has asked state departments to submit budgets with a seven percent reduction in their spending for fiscal 2014.
The General Assembly is not part of the executive office, of course. Berman says the legislature’s submitted budget of $38,866,000 for the budget year starting July 1 is a $22,000 increase over its enacted allotment for fiscal 2013.
Yet the overall trend in legislative spending remains on a steeper incline, up from $28.7 million in 2002-2003, as Ted Nesi recently reported.