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UPDATED: Mattiello Wins, Senate Will Vote on Original House Budget

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

 

Speaker Nicholas Mattiello

In a joint statement, Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio announced Monday evening that they "reached an agreement that will allow the budget to move forward."

According to their release, the Senate will vote on the original budget as passed by the House. The Senate on the last evening, sparked the controversy by adding an amendment which under minded the repeal of the car tax. What isn't clear is what exact bills will move after the two chambers return. 

As part of the new agreement, both leaders plan to present stand-alone legislation to their respective chambers that will address concerns related to the sustainability of the car tax phase-out. 

The legislation will mandate that the director of revenue file annual reports with both the Senate and the House and provide recommendations regarding the motor vehicle phase-out. The first report is due January 1, 2021.

The Senate has agreed to reconvene on Thursday to pass the budget that had been passed by the House. The Senate will take up the stand-alone bill at that time regarding the car tax phase out. Both the House and Senate have also agreed to reconvene on September 19th to take up other pieces of legislation that did not get addressed before the end of the session. Details regarding which bills will be addressed in September are still being worked out between the House and the Senate.

Ultimately, the resolution changed little. The issue to watch is did the month of charges and counter-charges -- some very personal -- impact the long-term working relationship between Ruggerio and Mattiello.

Statements from Leaders

 “I look forward to having the Senate return on Thursday to finalize the budget process. The concerns of the budget impasse expressed by city and town leaders have not been lost on me, but I needed to balance those concerns with the feasibility of the car tax phase-out, particularly in the out years. I’m pleased the Speaker recognized the concerns of the feasibility of the car tax phase-out that I share with my colleagues in the out years. This compromise allows the budget process to move forward, and I appreciate the Speaker’s willingness to work through our differences,” said President Ruggerio.

 “I’m pleased the Senate recognized the importance of moving forward and reconvening on Thursday to finalize the budget process. The car tax phase-out remains in the budget and the relief Rhode Islanders desire from this punitive tax will be implemented as I promised. We also recognize the Senate’s concerns related to the car tax phase-out from a long-term perspective, and I think it makes sense for the Director of Revenue to commission an annual study on how this program and other programs are working in conjunction with projected revenue. The House of Representatives will be reconvening in September to pass the Senate’s car tax legislation in addition to other bills. I thank President Ruggerio for his diligence in resolving our budget disagreement,” said Speaker Mattiello.

What is the impact

The month long delay in passing the budget created a number of issues for the cities and towns relating to issuing their auto tax bills and managing their school department budgets. The entire episode raises questions about both chamber's leadership and created a lot of dissatisfaction among the respective membership.

The outcome of a number of bills and whether the legislature will override Governor Gina Raimondo's veto of the so-called "continuing contracts."

On July 20, GoLocal reported: 

The National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) issued a blistering statement attacking Governor Gina Raimondo for her veto of the so-called “contract continuation.” 

NEARI have asked the legislature to override the veto by Raimondo. With the delayed legislative session, there will be mounting pressure on legislators to override Raimondo vetoes. The legislation allows expired contracts to continue in place. The RI League of Cities and Towns strongly opposed the legislation and called for the veto.

“We are disappointed that Governor Raimondo turned her back on classroom educators and Rhode Island public employees who were seeking respect and fundamental fairness in the bargaining process,” said NEARI President Larry Purtill. “It is no surprise that a politician who made her bones on Wall Street is incapable of understanding the needs of working Rhode Islanders. Clearly, ‘Gina from Smithfield’ has lost her way. We respectfully urge the Assembly to override this thoughtless veto.”

 

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