General Assembly Votes to Study Line-Item Veto, Runoff Elections for Governor
Friday, June 30, 2017
The resolution is sponsored by Rep. Kenneth A. Marshall and Sen. Frank S. Lombardi
“There’s no one-size-fits all approach to enacting these types of changes. States that have a line-item veto or runoff elections do those things in a number of ways. If we want to consider them, we should do our homework to see what options are out there, how they’re working, what parts are not working well, and which approaches might fit Rhode Island,” said Representative Marshall.
The legislation would create a special joint commission to comprehensively study the “policy, political, and fiscal considerations” of a line-item veto in Rhode Island.
“There is a lot of interest in the line-item veto and runoff elections, and these are proposals that deserve our careful consideration. I look forward to the work of this commission in the coming year,” said Senator Lombardi.
The study would include an examination of the constitutional balance of power between the three branches of government in Rhode Island in light of separation of powers and the roles of the legislative and executive branches of government in a modern society and economy, including the relative relationship and responsiveness of each branch to the public and each other with regard to its constitutional duties.
The commission will also examine the cost and benefits, both political and fiscal, to a constitutional amendment that would require a run-off election for governor when one candidate does not receive a majority of the votes cast in a general election.
The 12-member commission would consist of three members each from the House of Representatives and the Senate, including one member of the minority party from each chamber; an attorney with a background in philosophy and research of the Rhode Island Constitution and economics, finance and/or political science; a retired educator from one of Rhode Island’s state institutions of higher education; the President of the Rhode Island Society of Certified Public Accountants; a retired judge; a former general officer; a representative of a large Rhode Island public service employer that has significant knowledge of the state budget process.
The commission is to provide its report to the General Assembly by April 5, 2018.
The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. William W. O’Brien (D-Dist. 54, North Providence), Rep. Gregory J. Costantino (D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Johnston, Smithfield) and Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket).
Related Slideshow: FY18 House Finance Budget
The state's community college is poised to be the sole beneficiary of the Governor's Promise scholarship program.
It would make Rhode Island the fourth state to have tuition-free community college, allowing every resident the opportunity to earn an associate's degree tuition free. There is no means testing for the program and few standards.
The cost would be roughly $3 million in the FY18 (for the first cohort of students) and then $6 million the following year there are two classes.
As part of negotiations -- and the fiscal realities facing Rhode Island with a nearly $140 million shortfally, the Speaker announced Thursday that $25 million will be cut in general spending.
"It's something we discussed with the Governor and she thinks she can make [it] work," said Matteillo.
Also on the chopping block -- funding for the legislative office to the tune of $2 million.
Elderly and Disabled Bus Riders
After levying fares on some of the most needy RIPTA bus riders (the elderly and disabled) for the first time this past year, which resulted in strong public outcry, the House Finance budget contains just over $3 million -- for each of the next two years -- to refund the program this coming year.
Mattiello noted that after the two years is up, it is up to the Governor to find the funding.
On Thursday, Raimondo learned she is poised to get a piece (jCCRI) of her free college tuition proposal, which had been a major focal point of her budget proposal - and political strategy.
On the flip side, she is tasked with finding $25 million in government spending to cut, in order to balance the budget.
Unlike the May estimating conference, where Rhode Island revenues were found to be off nearly $100 million plus, the Governor can't say she didn't see this coming.
Medical Marijuana Expansion
In June, Raimondo called for an increase in medical marijuana dispensaries and an increase in licensing fees to generate $1.5 million in revenue for the state.
She called for "no less than six licensed compassion centers."
On Thursday, Mattiello said it was not in the budget, due the proposal's late timing.
While Mattiello made scant mention of cuts in the briefing Thursday - save for the $25 million out of government spending -- the question was raised as to where the rest of the $140 million shortfall will come from.
"Millions in cuts came from the Commerce Corp budget. The budget kept the Rebuild RI funding, but money for several other Commerce programs were reduced," said Larry Berman, spokesman for Mattiello.
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