Rhode Island Budget Now in Senate’s Hands

by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis 


Now that the House has approved the budget, it's on to the State Senate.

The most contentious item – approval of re–paying the “38 Studios” bondholders, which may eventually cost the state 112 million dollars.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) said, “But now we have to fulfill our obligations, unfortunately. So I am glad the General Assembly did fulfill that obligation. It's very unfortunate.”

The other big controversy – tolls that were to go into effect next month on the Sakonnet River bridge – are now on hold until at least next spring.

East Bay lawmakers who fought the tolls are thrilled.

State Sen. David Bates (R-RI) said, “I obviously support that. Part of my district is Bristol and it's going to be a terrific hardship on the East Bay of the tolls are in, so that's another good thing they did in the budget.”

But Governor Chafee is not happy the bridge tolls have been removed, saying, “We did have to replace the Sakonnet River Bridge for lack of maintenance. I don't ever want to see that happen. Replace an expensive bridge, just for lack of maintenance. You can't stand for that.”

Despite his anger, the governor was non–committal on whether he might reject the budget.

ABC6 Reporter Mark Curtis asked, “Is a veto a possibility?”

Gov. Chafee responded, “We continuing to work with them. And I just think we have to do the basics.”

The 8–point–2 billion dollar budget does not include any tax, fee or tuition increases.