2014 state budget


The House Finance Committee will meet this afternoon to review attempts to rein in spending in different state agencies.

Spending above budgeted amounts has been an issue in some different state departments in recent years. The agencies in question include the state Department of Corrections and the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals.

The heads of those two departments have in the past attributed the higher than expected spending to overtime and other unpredictable expenses.


Rhode Island continues to face worsening budget deficits for the next five years. That’s according to new information from the state budget office.  The red ink could cause cutbacks in government programs.

The budget office says lawmakers face a $150 million deficit for the fiscal year starting in July 2014. As it stands, the budget hole is set to keep growing,until it tops $400 million for fiscal 2018.

The budget enacted by the General Assembly in June made some relatively minor reductions in the state’s long-term deficits.

State Representative Michael Marcello (D-Scituate), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, joins the Roundtable this week to discuss the bumpy end to the House session; new tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge; repaying bonds for 38 Studios; and other issues.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The Rhode Island House of Representations Wednesday passed a budget that includes the first repayment for money owed over the state’s losing investment in video-game maker 38 Studios.  Taxpayers remain on the hook for a total of about 90 million dollars.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

In a development unheard of in recent history, the Rhode Island House of Representations ended a 10-hour budget session Wednesday without approving a spending plan. The budget remains 13 million dollars out of balance due to a rare defeat for House leaders.

The budget scheduled for a vote today in the Rhode Island House of Representatives includes $6 million in additional funding for public colleges and universities, but it would also make a significant reduction at the Office of Higher Education.

The spending plan cuts $1 million from OHE's budget, roughly 43 percent of the office's total funding. The budget endorsed by the House Finance Committee provides $1.2 million for OHE.


The Rhode Island House of Representations is set to begin debating Tuesday an 8-billion-dollar budget for the fiscal year starting July first.  The budget includes two and a half million dollars to repay bonds for failed video game maker 38 Studios.

Associated Press reporter David Klepper joins the Roundtable this week as discuss the budget passed this week by the House Finance Committee; debate over repaying bonds for 38 Studios; and some of the big unresolved issues facing the General Assembly.

Moderate Party gubernatorial candidate Ken Block says the speed with which the House Finance Committee votes on an $8.2 billion budget -- just hours after learning the details -- is a backwards way of doing things.

As Block notes in a news release, Tuesday's committee vote on the budget stands in contrast to the typical hearing process:

The Republican leader in the Rhode Island House says he plans to vote against the state budget next week since it includes money to pay back 38 Studios’ bonds.

GOP leader Brian Newberry was one of two reps abstaining Tuesday when the House Finance Committee approved an 8-point-two billion dollar budget. The spending plan is for the fiscal year starting July first.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The House Finance Committee Tuesday passed an $8.2 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. The spending plan doesn’t include any new broad-based taxes and wipes out some of Governor Lincoln Chafee’s initiatives.

With little debate, the budget passed its first hurdle on a 12-to-zero vote, with two Republican lawmakers abstaining. The spending plan reduces proposed help for distressed communities and eliminates Chafee’s plan to cut the corporate tax from 9 percent to 7 percent over time. House Finance Chairman Helio Melo said lawmakers had to work with what they had.


State lawmakers continue to meet behind closed doors as they prepare to unveil their changes to the budget introduced by Governor Lincoln Chafee.  The legislative spending plan will be vetted Tuesday by the House Finance Committee.

Filling a budget hole of about 30 million dollars is the top challenge facing lawmakers. The deficit is a result of lower than expected state revenues. Linda Katz of the liberal Center for Economic Progress is concerned that social programs for the needy may take a hit when legislators try to clear the red ink.

House Minority Leader Brian Newberry believes debate over whether Rhode Island should pay back moral obligation bonds for 38 Studios explains why the House version of state budget has yet to emerge.

Pablo Rodriguez joins the Roundtable this week as we discuss the 2014 race for treasurer; Governor Lincoln Chafee's recent judicial nominations; lower-than-expected state revenues; and the trio of controversies facing President Obama.


The outlook for Rhode Island’s next state budget will come into sharper view when the latest revenue data is discussed this morning.

The annual revenue estimating conference takes place twice a year, in November and May. It’s when legislative staffers offer their estimates of state revenues, based on taxes and other sources of income.

The latest revenue estimates are then used by the General Assembly when it makes revisions to the governor’s proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July first.