NEW: RISC Calls House Budget a ‘Mixed Bag’
Friday, June 01, 2012
The $8 billion dollar state budget approved by the House Finance Committee Thursday does not represent a major step forward on behalf of local community taxpayers, according to the Rhode Island Statewide Coalition (RISC).
In a statement released today, RISC executive director Donna Perry said she was pleased the Governor’s proposed meals tax was rejected, but was upset that Chafee’s local relief package was not addressed
“Although it held the line on some taxes and offers significant school aid, it represents a lack of will on the part of the Assembly to provide a roadmap to local communities trying to rein in their deeply unfunded local pension plans. It’s very disappointing to see that in a year when several of the cities have reached the point of fiscal collapse, legislators won’t take on the tougher pieces of a package aimed squarely at helping the communities.” However, Perry notes certain pieces of the Governor’s municipal relief package, especially related to school spending oversight, have been passed. “Although cities and towns benefit from the $33 million in school aid, it will be important that it’s monitored in a more effective way
“School aid needs to make its way into the curriculum and not just plug budget holes if it’s going to truly translate into an improvement and investment in our school systems. Problems that surfaced this past school year with unaccounted for runaway spending in certain school districts shows oversight to be as important as the aid itself.
“As the 38 Studios problem continues to unfold, it’s important to see legislators have approved stronger oversight and tightened up regulations for the film tax credit program. It also seems a good move to provide stronger coordination for budget management in a new Office of Management and Budget.”
RISC is also advocating that the final version of the budget, which comes after the Senate vote and final floor vote next week, will steer large portions of the state $102 million surplus to counter projected deficits that will no doubt surface in future budgets.
“One time revenues in this year’s budget need to go toward deficits that are on the horizon,” Perry said.