General Assembly ok’s supplemental budget bill

The supplemental budget will fill a current budget gap of about $250 million.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The supplemental budget bill for fiscal year 2020 will head to the governor now after the general assembly passed it Thursday night to keep the state going for the next couple of weeks as we finish out this fiscal year.

The supplemental budget will fill a current budget gap of about $250 million.

“We need to protect the State of Rhode Island. For the next 12 days this state will not be able to function without this bill passed,” said Representative William O’Brien.

But the budget, which reallocates about $120 million from the state’s rainy day fund, unspent money from¬† state agencies, and federal funding, faced some opposition in the House, though it passed with a majority in the House and Senate.

Both Republican and Democratic members in the House said there was not enough of a process or time to read the bill.

“We need time to digest this budget in this critical time in our state’s history and the membership chose to not read it, not understand what’s in it, and just vote for it because the speaker wanted it,” said House Minority Blake Filippi after the vote.

Some of the materials regarding the budget were only made available Wednesday night according to some members.

“Aside from Finance, no one could have possibly had time to read all of that between 8:30 last night and this morning. What you’re saying is you elected me to come here and play pretend,” said Representative Moira Walsh during the debate.

But members of the House Finance Committee argued otherwise, stating that the materials were distributed Monday night, and that the committee hearings have been ongoing.

“We’re all aware of the committee process and we’re all able to attend the committees,” said Vice Chair of the House Finance Committee Representative Scott Slater. “We’ve had hearings on all of this stuff that we’re passing today.”

Overall, the budget increases by almost $2 billion mostly as result of federal funding which has already been spent.
There was almost no debate on the context of the bill.

“I still don’t know of one substantive objection to a supplemental budget that is simply designed to fill a hole,” House Speaker Mattiello said during the debate.

Thursday was the last meeting for the General Assembly. Legislators plans to return in July to work on the budget for the next fiscal year once it is clearer how much more stimulus money the state will be getting from the federal government

 

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