Lawmakers debate Rhode Island's $9.5B budget

Lawmakers debate Rhode Island's $9.5B budget. (WJAR)

Rhode Island’s $9.5 billion budget is now up for debate among lawmakers, and scheduled for a vote on Friday. Leaders briefed members of both chambers on Tuesday about the budget, which became much healthier after revenue projections in May increased the amount of money lawmakers have to spend.

House Speaker Nick Mattiello told his members “no broad based tax increases and yet, we were able to restore a litany of things. “

He ticked off items such as restoring funds to the developmentally Disabled and hospitals. The budget increases the rate of pay for home healthcare workers by 10 percent, he said. And it extends the age for children under DCYF care from 18 to age 21. The budget saves money by eliminating 160 fulltime state jobs, that are currently unfilled.

It reverses the scoops from quasi-public agencies, making whole the Resource Recovery Corporation, Rhode Island Housing, and the Narragansett bay Commission.

The budget anticipates $23.5-million from sports betting, even before a formula for the operation is put together.

Critics say the state will spend whatever it can get from taxpayers, regardless of the worth.

Mike Stenhouse of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity tells NBC10, “I call government the Beast. It just wants to grow and grow and grow.”

He says looking at the budget from 16 years ago, and adjusting for inflation and population, “We’re spending 37.7% more than we did over that baseline of 2001. Or two and a half billion dollars more than we should be spending.

The full House is scheduled to debate and vote on the budget plan this Friday, and then immediately send it to the Senate.

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