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NEW: RI House, Senate Finance Approve Budget

Thursday, June 27, 2013


The Rhode Island House of Representatives approved a fiscal year 2014 budget Wednesday night by a vote of 52-20. The full Senate is expected to take up the budget on Thursday following Senate Finance voting it out of committee Wednesday night.

The Rhode Island House of Representatives approved a $8.2 billion state budget for state fiscal year 2014 shortly after 8 PM on Wednesday, which contained the highly contested $2.5 million initial payback on the 38 Studios bond debt.  

The Senate Finance Committee approved the budget by a vote of 9 to 1 following the House action; the full Senate is expected to take up the measure on Thursday.  

See the House of Representatives 52 to 20 vote tally here.

"Leadership's accustomed to the Republicans voting against them," said Lisa Blais with the taxpayer advocacy group OSTPA .  "They're not used to seeing it in their own ranks.  Any of those 20 who opposed the budget can forget about bills they might have remaining getting through now.  If they've got a coffee maker up there, that might be gone tomorrow, too.  It's too bad, but that's the way it works."

Reactions Split

Governor Lincoln Chafee's spokesperson Christine Hunsinger said, "The Governor is pleased the moral obligation payment's in the budget, and he's cautiously optimistic it will remain in there as it goes to the Senate.  He felt it had to be in there."

Blais, who had been critical of the budget throughout the process, told GoLocal, "If there was any upside to to this, it was refreshing to see a debate on the floor about the process -- with members debating on whether they wanted to vote on budget that they had no real participation or input in. We haven't seen that level of discourse played out a such a public level before."

"In reality though, all this budget was about was CYA. Taxpayers are the outsiders looking in. From that perspective, I think the biggest winner here was the Speaker's behind," said Blais.

Mike Stenhouse with the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity was similarly harsh in his critique of the budget.  

"Where are the jobs? Job creation measures? All this talk of horse trading, paying past debts....why are we not having a special session in the fall to talk jobs?"

"We did it for pensions two years ago. Don't the 60,000 unemployed Rhode Islanders deserve the same attention?" 

Larry Berman, spokesperson for Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, had the following to say about the budget.

"The Speaker is very pleased.  It's a very responsible budget.  The major economic development pieces are in there, including the historic tax credit, " said Berman.

"We are able to push off the tolling [on the Sakonnet Bridge], which we thought was important, especially to local businesses in the area.  It will give legislators time now to study the issue in the off-session, and come back and enact permanent legislation next year after review."

Session Nearing End

"We expect the Senate will vote tomorrow on the budget," said Berman. "As far as House is concerned, they'll be in Thursday and Friday, it appears.  There are still several more sessions needed to finish this year's business."  


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