Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

House Majority Whip Jay Edwards (D-Tiverton) joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss the budget passed Tuesday by the House of Representatives; the way forward on curbing fire service costs; and the outlook for Governor Raimondo's truck-toll proposal.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is putting the brakes on Governor Raimondo’s plan to impose new tolls on trucks.

Speaker Mattiello was at Governor Raimondo’s side last week when she unveiled a plan to make larger commercial trucks pay tolls. Raimondo, who took steps to soften the plan this week, called it a sensible way to pay for road and bridge construction. She said big rigs cause most of the damage.


Lawmakers are set to begin their annual marathon session this Thursday to vote on a budget for the fiscal year starting July first. The $8.7 billion spending plan eliminates tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he’s gotten only positive feedback about the spending plan. The budget cuts the corporate tax rate from 9 to 7 percent and raises the exemption for the inheritance tax. The spending plan also includes $12.3 million to continue paying back investors in 38 Studios.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

A state Senate committee voted Tuesday to create a new Rhode Island infrastructure fund that would eliminate tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge. As Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis reports, the bill faces several hurdles to take effect.

The legislation unanimously passed by the Senate Finance Committee would generate 800 million dollars over 10 years for keeping up roads and bridges. Senate President Teresa Pavia Weed calls the bill a long-term approach, starting next year, for improving the state’s decaying infrastructure.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed sat down prior to the start of the new General Assembly session to discuss top issues facing the state, including the economy; the growing cost of paying back investors in 38 Studios, Sakonnet River Bridge tolls, voter ID, and more.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

With the General Assembly set to start its new session Tuesday, House Speaker Gordon Fox sat down to discuss the issues facing the legislature, including the latest budget deficit; fallout from 38 Studios; the possible impact of a settlement over the 2011 overhaul of the state pension system; tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge; and more.

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is ramping up efforts to collect the 10-cent toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge. Chairman David Darlington said there are 750,000 records of drivers who have crossed the bridge without being charged. Now the authority is ready to collect.

If you have an E-ZPass, it will be charged. If you don’t own an E-ZPass and have crossed the Sakonnet Bridge fewer than 25 times, you will not receive a bill. But after you make that 25th trip, the authority will send out a bill of at least $2.50.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Lincoln Chafee joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss whether RI Democrats are doing enough to move the economy forward; tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge; NSA surveillaince; education policy; and why his poll ratings are so low.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Governor Lincoln Chafee isn't backing away from the state's placement of tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge, despite sharp opposition from residents and business owners in the East Bay.

Chafee says he understands the toll is unpopular and that many people are economically squeezed, but he calls the approach necessary.

"Unless there's a better way to maintain our bridges, which there hasn't been yet, I won't pass on future costs to our children and grandchildren," Chafee said Thursday during a taping of RIPR's Political Roundtable.

Welcome back to my Friday column. As always you can reach me at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org. Let's get started.