Gov. Raimondo, Republicans react to RI House budget
By John Krinjak
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) -- The House Finance Committee overwhelmingly passed their version of the state budget, 15 to 3, after a long night on Smith Hill--members filing out of the State House in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
"This is a well-balanced budget that our citizens can be proud of," said House Speaker Nick Mattiello. "We took care of our economy and we took care of all of our citizens."
The budget addresses a brand new revenue stream, sports gambling--authorizing Gov. Raimondo to sign a contract with a vendor to offer it at Twin River's two locations starting October 1st.
The budget gets rid of the Governor's 25-cent hike in the cigarette tax, and nixes expansion of so called compassion centers for medical marijuana, but maintains $250 million in bond money to repair crumbling schools.
"I haven't had a chance to review every detail of it, but in general it seems like there's good investments in job training, investments in the economy, continued tax cuts, so as far as I could tell, overall it looks like a good budget," said Gov. Raimondo, speaking to ABC6 News at the Gaspee Days Parade in Warwick Saturday.
The budget restores much of the human services funding that Gov. Raimondo initially proposed cutting, getting rid of medicaid copays and giving a raise to healthcare providers.
The house budget also accounts for the possibility that nursing homes will win a $24 million suit against the state, with a plan to dock that money out of funding the homes would otherwise receive next fiscal year.
House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan says that's unfair. "I think the nursing homes had a valid case, and what this budget does is negate the fact that they had a valid case," said Morgan.
Not surprisingly, the proposed House budget continues to fund the phaseout of the car tax. which was one of Speaker Mattiello's campaign promises in 2016.
Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said through a spokesperson late Saturday that he believes the budget is a good one.
The full House is slated to take up the budget next Friday.