(PROVIDENCE, RI) High unemployment, same-sex marriage and the state budget are among the top issues facing the General Assembly as it starts a new session Tuesday.
The Assembly is meeting on New Year’s Day because of a requirement that legislative sessions start on the first Tuesday of the year. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed says her chamber plans to concentrate on jobs. “Economic development and a focus on turning around Rhode Island’s economy will be the Senate’s single highest priority this session.”
We’re offering a slight break from TGIF’s usual format this week with a look back at how 12 of the big questions of Rhode Island politics played out in 2012. As always, feel free to share your thoughts and comments on the blog or by email: idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org.
Question 1. Will Governor Lincoln Chafee offer a more coherent message that helps lift his slumping approval rating?
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.