State Spending Cutbacks Considered

Providence – Governor Lincoln Almond and General Assembly leaders have agreed to look for ways to cut $80-million to $100-million dollars in stand spending in reaction to an apparent economic downturn in Rhode Island. At a meeting Thursday, they came to no agreement about how to make such cuts.

The amount to be cut is based on lower than expected income tax returns for the first quarter of the fiscal year and the assumption that sales tax revenues will be down in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

?This is a serious situation. This is a problem we had prior to September 11, which has been seriously exasperated,? said Almond.

Legislative leaders made no commitment to any particular cuts.

?We?ve got possibly a very big problem to solve and when I look at all the areas, don?t have preferences off the cuff, that would be irresponsible. What this was about was setting the tone for dealing the times,? said Senate Majority Leader William Irons.

Governor Almond indicated that he wants to freeze a phase out of the auto excises tax. He indicated he would not favor rolling back a reduction in the state income tax or recently approved tax breaks for financial service companies and other industries.

?One of the key areas, that I?ve tried to concentrate on is competitiveness of the state with respect to the economy. If you?re going to come out of whatever happens here strong, you want to be in position to take advantage of the upturn,? he said.

Local leaders are already expressing opposition to freezing the excise tax roll back. Social service advocates were making plans to fight serious cuts in funding for their programs.

Here Martha Bebinger?s full report from WRNI?s Morning Edition