Money Watchers: RIPEC spending report

An annual spending report released Tuesday by a fiscal watchdog group reinforces some stereotypes about Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council report compares Rhode Island with other states. It's not to make recommendations, but lawmakers will use the information to bolster their arguments, especially lawmakers and candidates who believe the state spends too much.

"We spend more than other states on education. We spend more money on public welfare than other states do. It fits the image and at the same time we don't support with state funding higher (education) or for transportation purposes. So, you can see the results on the transportation," RIPEC Executive Director John Simmons said.

RIPEC said welfare has been the largest source for growth, accounting for 30 percent of the last 11 years of increases until 2011, which are the most recent figures in the report.

The report puts Rhode Island in the bottom 10 states for state spending on higher education and transportation. But it's definitely not in the bottom states for taxes.

"We are a higher taxed state, if you look at it. We're about 11th highest on the taxation piece," Simmons said. "So, we in Rhode Island are taxed fairly heavily for the services that we get."

The report will be focus of discussion at the State House when budget negotiations begin.