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:
Governor Lincoln Chafee says the uncertainty and cost of litigating a union challenge to last year’s landmark pension overhaul justify efforts to seek a settlement.
In a telephone interview from Washington, DC, where he’s attending a National Governors Association meeting, Chafee dismissed concerns that a settlement would dilute the pension overhaul to such an extent that it would hurt Rhode Island’s fiscal condition.
“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.
Governor Lincoln Chafee remains open to the idea of putting one person in charge of the state’s economic development efforts, although the precise approach for doing that hasn’t been decided, his office says.
Almost two months have passed since the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council issued its recommendations for reshaping the state’s strategy to improving the economy.
It would provide the avenue we need to create open and constructive dialogue about whether we actually need 39 cities and towns or if we could go with smaller, more effective government in the form of regional or county administration.