Speaker Fox: House Will Not Pass Chafee Budget

UPDATE: House Speaker Gordon Fox announced Wednesday evening that the House would not pass the Governor's proposed budget.

Fox said that he wanted to give the public the chance to weigh in at the Finance Committee hearing, and having seen the overwhelming opposition to the plan, has pledged to work with the Governor to come up with an amended budget proposal.

The Speaker provided this statement:

“Governor Chafee's proposed multi-tiered sales tax approach is unacceptable.  Particularly offensive are the items proposed on the 1 percent list, such as home heating oil, water for home use consumption and taxes impacting the manufacturing industry.  After speaking with a majority of House members, we will not support the current proposal.

“I have been extremely troubled by this sales tax plan since its submission on March 8.  However, I wanted to give our House Finance Committee and fiscal staff the opportunity to carefully review it and provide the public with an opportunity to weigh in, which was done today.  There has also been overwhelming opposition expressed to me by House members, the business community, and by thousands of average citizens who have contacted the offices of House leadership and Finance Committee Chairman Helio Melo.

“The House will not pass the budget in its current form.  We will instead develop alternatives to this proposal and will continue to work with the Governor to amend his budget submission.”

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The State Finance Committee is hearing testimony Wednesday on either side of the Governor's sales tax change proposal.

While the Governor says the changes will increase revenue to the state, those affected by the new tax rates say it will harm businesses and consumers.

The testimony began at 11am Wednesday, with over 150 people signed up to testify.

ABC6 News Reporter Shannon O'Brien is there, and filed this report.