The month of May is here, bringing a heightened focus on Gina Raimondo's proposed budget and the PawSox proposal. So thanks for stopping by, and feel free to share your tips & thoughts at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org, and to follow me on the twitters. Here we go.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is slated to deliver his first budget address Wednesday. The capital city is facing a sizeable deficit.

The budget hole could be as large as $23 million. That’s a lot less than the deficit former Mayor Angel Taveras called a fiscal hurricane, but it’s still a significant gap to fill.

Mayor Jorge Elorza has pledged to cultivate broad-based economic growth, while holding the line against tax increases. Complicating the outlook is the fact that Providence needs to negotiate new contracts for teachers and municipal workers.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello wants to eliminate the "Taylor Swift tax"  -- Governor Gina Raimondo's proposed statewide property tax on vacation homes worth more than $1 million.

"I'm hoping that the revenues are there to eliminate that," Mattiello said during a taping Thursday of Rhode Island Public Radio's Political Roundtable. "You could look to see that eliminated. I agree with the public sentiment that you don't open the door to a new tax, because it's just going to expand in the future, so that's something that I'm really looking to eliminate."

Ian Donnis / RIPR

State Representative Joseph Shekarchi (D-Warwick) joins Political Roundtable to discuss the arrest this week of State Representative Joseph Almeida (D-Providence); Shekarchi's ties to Governor Gina Raimondo and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello; the proliferation of tax-cut proposals at the General Assembly this year; and the outlook for a hike in the minimum wage.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse calls a legislative package he unveiled Monday a way to make taxes fairer for middle-class Americans.

Whitehouse says the three bills in his package represent $310 billion dollars over 10 years -- and could help pay for other tax cuts sought by Republicans.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A handful of tax policy changes will take effect in the New Year. The differences include dropping the corporate tax rate, from 9 to 7 percent.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss her pre-inaugural focus, plans for confronting budget deficits, how she'll work with the General Assembly, and more.

Rhode  Island hotels and restaurants are doing more  business lately. And that's good news for their businesses and state coffers.

That's the subject of this week's Bottom Line. The Providence and Warwick Visitors Bureau's Martha Sheridan joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon, along with Providence Business News editor Mark Murphy to do the numbers.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50 pm.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

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.

West Warwick Residents Approve Critical Budget

May 23, 2014
Wikimedia Commons

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.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung on Tuesday unveiled a $200 million tax-cutting proposal that he billed as a way to jump-start Rhode Island's economy.

file / RIPR

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.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

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.