RI state budget

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Rhode Island is now a week into a new fiscal year without an approved budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay says the longer this goes on, the worse lawmakers look. 


Ian Donnis / RIPR

State government will not shut down, even as Rhode Island moves into a new fiscal year without a new budget. Lawmakers in Rhode Island’s House and Senate failed to pass a budget before abruptly ending the General Assembly session last week.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said state departments will continue to operate following last year’s fiscal budget. Raimondo said the plan will work in the short term, but the state will soon owe money it hasn’t yet allocated for a variety of promised payouts.

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Rhode Island lawmakers hope to wrap up their Statehouse business and adjourn Friday, at least until the fall. Before they do that, a slew of bills remain on the table. 

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The Senate Finance Committee will vote Tuesday on the $9.2 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July first.

The House approved the spending plan on a 64-to-11 party line vote last Thursday.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The Rhode Island House will settle in this Thursday for a lengthy session to decide the state budget for the next fiscal year. The budget debate could run multiple days.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The House Finance Committee is expected to vote Thursday on a new budget for the fiscal year beginning July first. The legislature usually makes a series of changes to the spending plan submitted by Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo is poised Monday to announce a major education initiative that would make the first two years of public higher education tuition-free for Rhode Island high school graduates enrolled at the state’s three public colleges – the Community College of Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, according to Statehouse sources.

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Some good news for Gov. Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island General Assembly in the latest revenue numbers for fiscal year 2016 from the state Department of Revenue.

Through January, both the personal income tax collections and the sales tax receipts are exceeding state projections. Income tax collections are running nearly four percent –3.8 percent—ahead of estimates. The sales levy is bringing in 3.4 percent more than estimates.

David Sullivan, Rhode Island’s well-regarded state tax administrator, is leaving his post in state government for a private sector job.

Rhode Island’s largest legal gambling venue, Twin River Casino, is so far fending off a challenge to its gambling revenue from a new competitor, the Plainridge slot parlor in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission reported today that in July, the first full month of operation at the former horse-racing track, that the slot machines and electronic table games harvested $18.1 million in gambling revenue.

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island’s General Assembly and Gov. Gina Raimondo have reached agreement on her first state budget. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay on what the new budget will do and what it lacks.

The $8.7 billion state budget for the financial year that begins three days before the Bristol 4th of July parade  seems greased for approval at the Statehouse. As is usually the case, this spending and taxing plan contains elements Rhode Islanders should cheer yet   fails to address some of our little state’s crying needs.

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The latest version of the state budget would cut nearly $1 million from the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, but most of the governor's other education programs remain intact.

In a written statement, acting Education Commissioner David Abbot praised the budget for increasing aid to school districts, expanding funding for preschool and all-day Kindergarten and boosting aid for school construction.

However, he expressed concerns about an $800,000 cut to the State Department of Education.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The House Finance Committee is slated to vote Tuesday on the budget for the fiscal year beginning July first. As is usually the case the House makes some changes to the spending plan introduced by the governor.

The House Finance budget is not expected to include truck tolls proposed by Governor Gina Raimondo to help pay for bridge improvements. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says more information is needed about the plan. The budget does include funding for HealthSource RI, the state’s version of Obamacare, as well as economic incentives meant to spark economic growth.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Mark and Dave speak to Virginia Burke, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Healthcare Association, which represents nursing homes. The group has questioned a plan to cut millions of dollars in state Medicaid spending.

Burke tells Mark and Dave that cuts to Medicaid would likely lead to layoffs for nursing home staff, which could degrade the quality of patient care.

Rhode Island motorists will see a small increase of one-cent in the gasoline tax on July 1, 2015 to account for inflation, according to the state Department of Revenue.

This tax, known commonly as the state "gas tax" will increase from 32 to 33 cents per gallon, based on calculations from the state Division of Taxation. This adjustment is required under state law.

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