budget

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Cranston residents will face no property tax increase next year under a budget proposed Tuesday night by Mayor Allan Fung. He has submitted a $262 million spending plan that would fully fund the city’s annual pension obligations while not hiking property taxes.

The average Cranstonian pays $5,000 a year in property taxes. Fung admits that’s high, but says just keeping taxes from rising has been a challenge given state funding cuts and the devastation caused by the great flood of 2010.

I'm combing through a Rhode Island Senate Fiscal Office summary of Governor Lincoln Chafee's FY 2015 budget proposal - a handy document that summarizes the item in question and analyzes its potential impacts. In health care, there's lots to digest.

But here are a few items that have caught my eye so far. And keep in mind, these are all still up for debate.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Gov. Lincoln Chafee has delivered his final state budget proposal and delivered his final State of the State address. Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay parses Chafee’s last hurrah.

The cliché says: show me your budget and I’ll figure out your priorities. When it comes to Gov. Chafee’s final budget, that may be a trite description, but it’s true.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Lincoln Chafee will unveil his last state budget during a State of the State address Wednesday at the Statehouse. As Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis reports, Chafee announced last year he wouldn’t seek re-election

Chafee will present his spending plan during a public address to the legislature, which typically makes significant changes to the budget before ending its session in June. During a recent interview, Chafee said his spending priorities remain unchanged.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

With the General Assembly set to start its new session Tuesday, House Speaker Gordon Fox sat down to discuss the issues facing the legislature, including the latest budget deficit; fallout from 38 Studios; the possible impact of a settlement over the 2011 overhaul of the state pension system; tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge; and more.

Republican candidate for governor Ken Block joins Bonus Q+A this week to discuss the economy, Sakonnet tolls, his view of budget savings, and a host of other issues.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Republican candidate for governor Ken Block joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss his campaign; why he became a Republican; the fate of the Moderate Party; his plan to save $1 billion over four years; and more.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Do voters really want substance in their candidates?

Flo Jonic / RIPR

U.S Senator Jack Reed said the deal ending the partial government shutdown in the U.S. is long overdue.

“It should have not been contemplated or undertaken in the first place and now we have to get down to real, serious, principled negotiations.”

He added that he hopes the partial shutdown hasn’t caused lasting harm to relationships formed across the aisle in the senate.

RIPR

Every year, when Rhode Island lawmakers start working on a new budget, they face a spending plan mired in red ink. By law, the budget must be balanced by the end of the legislative session, usually in June. But like a boomerang, projected budget deficits zoom back to Smith Hill by the time the new session starts in January. Next year will no different -- Rhode Island already faces the fiscal year starting in July 2014 with an estimated $149 million hole. And the state lacks a plan for overcoming budget deficits that are projected to get far worse with time.

Rhode Island’s two US senators say the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester are having a negative effect across the Ocean State.  Reports, the impact of those cuts was the focus of a forum in Providence Wednesday.

Rhode Island Housing, which recently lost 30 employees partly due to federal spending cuts, was the site of the forum hosted by Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse.

Rhode Island continues to face onerous budget deficits for the near future -- from $149.2 million for the fiscal year starting in July 2014 to $410 million in FY 2018, according to a new five-year analysis by the state Budget Office.

The cascade of red ink will place pressure on lawmakers to find fresh spending cuts, even as new casinos in Massachusetts are expected to cut into one of Rhode Island's top revenue sources -- gambling. The legal challenge to the 2011 overhaul of the state pension system poses another possible wild card.

A group of citizens has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court in an attempt to stop a supplemental tax increase in Woonsocket.  Woonsocket officials hope to use the tax to overcome a persistent budget crisis.

But the lawsuit filed on behalf of several taxpayers claims the supplemental tax doesn’t comply with the General Assembly legislation that authorized it. The legislation was based on Woonsocket being able to reach almost 4 million dollars in other budget savings. But the suit says that since almost 3 million of the savings are subject to legal action, that may never be realized.

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:

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