Senate Finance Committee meets regarding coronavirus funding, state budget

The Senate Finance Committee is starting to work on what the state budget will look like for the next fiscal year.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Senate Finance Committee is starting to work on what the state budget will look like for the next fiscal year.

Thursday the committee heard from a combination of state and federal officials on where the state stands in terms of recovery funding.

It’s incredibly important to get that information so they know how to develop the state budget.

“We don’t know yet how we’re going to do it,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman William Conley.

The unknowns stem from not knowing what the future holds in terms of the virus, or how they’ll apply the current federal money from the CARES Act for the remainder of the year.

“We’re confronted with – under those uncertain circumstances, trying to put a budget together over the next six weeks. An incredibly compressed period of time under incredibly challenging circumstances,” explained Conley.

The states have to use the CARES Act money by the end of the year or return what they haven’t used. For that reason, the Director of Administration Brett Smiley presented estimated ranges of what they think may be used for things like hospitals and medical supplies. The biggest question mark comes from whether or not there’s a surge in cases.

“That’s not going to be something we’re going to be able to bend to our will,” said Conley. “That’s something that we’re going to have to constantly monitor on a daily basis. And that’s what’s going to inform us in terms of how we’re able to close those ranges or maybe even expand them.”

The other contributing factor is when more stimulus money could be coming. Congressman David Cicilline testified on his bill, the Heroes Act, which is currently going no where in the Republican controlled senate.

“I don’t believe the American people are going to allow the United States Senate under the leadership of Mitch McConnell to do nothing,” Cicilline told the committee. “I think the support for the heroes act is growing.”

“One of the concerns we have is whether or not that will get done in time for us to realize many of the benefits of the act in this budget by June 30,” Conley told ABC 6.

Conley says they’ll be monitoring the next six weeks very closely to better inform their decisions.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Politics, Rhode Island, US & World News