RI lawmakers unveil $13.1 billion state budget
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Members of the Rhode Island House Finance Committee unveiled a $13.1 billion state budget Thursday evening, increasing funds for unemployment and raising the threshold of a one-time tax for businesses that profited during the pandemic.
The budget is $2 billion more than the $11.2 billion Governor McKee proposed in March. Members of the Finance Committee said the extra money comes from federal funds they want to allocate back into the community, specifically education and unemployment.
Lawmakers raised the threshold for a tax on profits made by businesses that received payment protection program (PPP) loans during the pandemic from $150K to $250K. Lawmakers acknowledged that if taxes were raised too much, they could lose out on people and businesses across the state.
“We took advantage of every dollar we had to help small businesses out,” said House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi.
Shekarchi also addressed funding for the Department of Children, Youth and Families, calling it a “legacy problem.”
The Speaker emphasized his main priority in the budget was housing.
“This is a very real problem and we need to address it,” he said. The Speaker said if the state cannot find enough affordable housing for workers, companies will not move here. The House will also look into revisiting zoning, something Shekarchi said has not been looked at in 30 years.
The proposed budget does not include marijuana, funding for a new bike path, or funds for structural improvements to Kennedy Plaza.
The budget heads to the House floor for a vote next Thursday.