1. The first graph is the history of Rhode Island’s state budget growth since 1998, in dollar amounts spent at the time they were spent (or will be spent in the cases of FY2015 and FY2016), i.e. in terms of what economists refer to as “current dollars”. Fiscal year 2015 and 2016 figures are from the House of Representatives’ Fiscal Advisory staff budget briefing book; figures from years before that are from previous-year budget documents posted at the State of Rhode Island Budget Office website.
2. The next chart shows amounts spent from all sources, adjusted for inflation. The inflation adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index data series compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, available via the RI Department of Labor and Training website. For FY2015, so far, the official statistics indicate a period of deflation (about -0.7% from July 2014 to April 2015), which means that increases meant to keep pace with inflation in the FY15 budget will look like actual increases in the inflation-adjusted numbers over that period.
3. The next chart shows inflation-adjusted spending from the state’s general revenues. Since Rhode Island passed through “Carcieri’s notch” between FY2008 and FY2010, there’s been about $380M in new inflation-adjusted general revenue spending added to the budget (beginning in FY2011, the final Carcieri budget) — a factor worthy of consideration in any analysis about where money should come from to pay for basic infrastructure maintenance.