House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello emerged in March with a strong hold on what is commonly called the state's most powerful political office. Following the unveiling of a probe of former speaker Gordon Fox, Mattiello won a brief succession fight and pledged a stronger focus on jobs and the economy. Mattiello sat down last week to discuss his first few months as speaker and some of the top issues facing the state, including his choice for governor and Buddy Cianci's latest comeback attempt.
Residents of West Warwick have passed a town budget that scales back services and raises taxes as part of an effort to avoid a financial crisis. The move is a early step for the town's path to fiscal stability.
The $86.3 million budget comes with plenty of concessions, including cuts in town programs, a 2.9 percent increase in property taxes, and reductions to public employee pensions. But town manager Frederick Presley said the concessions are necessary if West Warwick wants to avoid bankruptcy.
Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien has proposed a budget that excludes any tax hike for residents or businesses. The proposed 112-million dollar budget includes buying a rescue vehicle to cut overtime costs, giving schools 600-thousand extra dollars, and setting aside money in the rainy day fund. Grebien said the arrival of new businesses, cuts in city staff, and grant revenue helped craft the budget.
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.
State legislators are set to focus attention on the issue of growing economic disparity by viewing the Robert Reich documentary "Inequality For All" Wednesday afternoon. Yet there's little consensus on the most controversial way to tackle the issue -- raising the state income tax for upper-income Rhode Islanders.
Advocates of eliminating or cutting Rhode Island's sales tax will make their last stand on December 30, for now at least, before a legislative commission presents its findings and recommendation to Smith Hill leadership. Yet House Speaker Gordon Fox isn't rushing to embrace proponents' argument that reducing the tax would be an economic catalyst.
Fox's spokesman, Larry Berman, says the speaker will carefully review the recommendations from the Special Joint Legislative Commission to Study the Sales Tax Repeal.
Pablo Rodriguez joins the Political Roundtable this week as we discuss the troubled rollout of Obamacare; back and forth over pensions; the merits of tax stabilization in Providence; and the Democratic race for lieutenant governor.
The Red Sox win big, politics never takes a holiday, and the calendar turns to November, marking the one-year mark until Rhode Island's next general election. Thanks for stopping by. As always, feel free to send me tips and feedback at idonnis (at) ripr (org) and to follow my short takes via Twitter. Let's head in.
This week marked the one-year point until Rhode Island's decisive 2014 primary. Welcome back to my Friday column. Feel free to drop me a line at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org and to stay posted via Twitter. Let's head in.