R.I. House passes 2024 budget

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2024 budget on Friday evening.

The $14 billion budget includes funding to address the housing crisis, support business development and make education funding more equitable, Communications Director Larry Berman said.

Berman said housing development is a top priority of Speaker Joe Shekarchi, and the budget commits an additional $31 million to support it, as well as a Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, and $45 million from State Fiscal Recovery funds to increase facility capacity for individuals experiencing homelessness.

“We have worked hard, in collaboration with Gov. McKee and our colleagues in the Senate, to identify the most effective ways we can direct the funding we have toward solutions that will help create more affordable housing access,” Shekarchi said.

Berman added that the budget includes a $50,000 exemption for all businesses subject to the tangible tax, as well as a increasing the earned income tax credit from the current 15% to 16% for working Rhode Islanders.

The bill also adds $7 million for early childhood education and $4 million to the governor’s Learn 365 RI program for after school learning, as well as reforms the school funding formula.

Berman said other pieces of the budget include $35.6 million to suspend collection of tax on electricity and natural gas billed to consumers, a $45 million investment into the life sciences sector, a $14 million injection of funds into state hospitals, and increases funding for the Rhode Island Food Bank by $3 million.

The budget also adds $55 million to the state’s “rainy day” fund.

Berman concluded that the budget does not include a proposal submitted by the governor authorizing eminent domain for the Department of Housing or the governor’s proposal to reduce the sales tax and corporate minimum tax or pause a scheduled 3-cent increase in the gas tax.

“We are being realistic; given the end of the federal funding related to the pandemic, we need to plan not only for next year, but for the following years, when we are not going to have the level of revenue we’ve been fortunate enough to have for the past few years,” Shekarchi said. “This budget is responsible, and I especially want to thank the House Finance Committee, led by Chairman Marvin Abney, for their hard work studying every element of it to get us where we are today.”

The budget now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to be considered by the Finance Committee on Tuesday.

Categories: News, Rhode Island