budget

The new budget proposal from Governor Lincoln Chafee is a complex document, so here are a few highlights for schools and colleges.

There's a slight increase in this budget proposal for public colleges and universities. Oddly, officials disagree about the exact amount of the increase. The governor’s office first reported $8 million, but higher education officials say it’s closer to $6 million. The Office of Higher Education says it is grateful for any increase, after years of decreases under former Governor Don Carcieri.

Governor Lincoln Chafee says his new budget builds on attempts by his administration to position Rhode Island for better days. Joined by RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay, we also talk about the fight over same-sex marriage legislation, the governor's political plans for 2014, and other issues.

James Baumgartner

Gov. Lincoln Chafee joins Political Roundtable this week to talk about his budget, Rhode Island's economy,  and regional competition for a better tax climate. Also joining me in the discussion are RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay and guest panelist David Klepper from the Associated Press.

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Governor Lincoln Chafee is winning a measure of plaudits for a budget with no new taxes and a proposed cut of the corporate tax from 9 percent to 7 percent over three years. But a tax initiative by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is raising uncertainly about the net effect of Chafee's initiative.

After trying unsuccessfully for the last two years to get the General Assembly to go along with a series of tax proposals, Governor Lincoln Chafee goes in a very different direction with his proposal for the budget year starting July 1. The budget eschews tax hikes and proposes cutting Rhode Island's corporate tax from 9 percent to 7 percent over three years.

Making Rhode Island more competitive and getting Rhode Islanders back to work are central points of Governor Lincoln Chafee's State of the State address tonight.

Budget staffers and other members of the governor's administration held a background briefing for reporters a short time ago at the Department of Administration building on Smith Hill. The details are embargoed until Chafee begins his speech this evening in the House chamber.

But in addition to the points in the first sentence of the post, the Chafee administration also plans to emphasize:

RI to hear governor's budget proposal

Jan 16, 2013
RI Governor Lincoln Chafee
Catherine Welch

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Gov. Lincoln Chafee gives his annual state-of-the-state speech Wednesday before a joint meeting of the General Assembly. The governor is expected to discuss the state’s stalled economy in his remarks.

Rhode Island Public Radio is airing the State of the Speech live along with analysis from the political team. Coverage starts at 7 p.m.

Governor Lincoln Chafee is declining to talk specifics about whether his next budget will include revenue increases – a.k.a. tax hikes.

The governor offered this comment during an interview last week (excerpts of which will be broadcast on RIPR Thursday morning):

“The budget will come out in January … we’re still putting it together.”

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:

A pre-session House Finance Committee meeting this afternoon offered a mix of good news and bad news: a larger than expected current-year surplus of about $47 million will roughly cut in half the deficit for the budget year starting next July 1, from $130 million to $70 million.

But the state’s structural deficit could grow to about $400 million in five years, due in part to overspending in some state departments. In an interview following the meeting, House Finance chairman Helio Melo said the state needs to be more disciplined:

“It’s the holiday season,” as the song goes, and what’s December in Rhode Island without another Statehouse-tree related controversy? Mull that over along with my Friday column. Your thoughts and tips are welcome, as always at idonnis [at] ripr [dot] org.

The Board of Governors for Higher Education has just three full meetings left before it ceases to exist, at least in its current form.

The state is dissolving both the Board of Governors and the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education. Instead, a single board will oversee the state’s public schools and colleges and universities starting on January 1st, 2013. (No word yet, by the way, on when Governor Lincoln Chafee will announce his appointees for the new board)

Items the Board of Governors may address in its final days include:

The Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education meets this week to consider a budget request for the coming fiscal year.

The Department of Education is preparing two scenarios:  one for level-funding and one for a seven percent decrease.

This is one of just two meetings and two work sessions remaining before the board is dissolved in favor of a single Board of Education. The new board will oversee both elementary and secondary schools and Rhode Island’s three institutions of higher education.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but we’re seeing a few attempts to bring some urgency to Rhode Island and its perennial economic struggles.

Moody’s Investors Service says the $8.1 billion budget signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee on June 15 “is credit positive for Central Falls and schools, but leaves Woonsocket and pensions unaddressed.”

Moody’s points to “a material increase in funding for schools” — $34 million, or almost 4 percent, “marking the third consecutive annual increase in school funding. State funding for education now stands at over $900 million, well above pre-recession peak.”

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