Updated: A More-Relevant Budget Question

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If you follow Rhode Island government news, you probably know that a last-minute Senate amendment to the House budget blew up the last days of the legislative session.  Everybody has quickly found out that state law continues the prior year budget to the new year if a new budget doesn’t pass.  Things will go on.

The bigger practical question is this year.  The revised 2017 budget that was part of this year’s budget that’s $265 million of spending that the state apparently has already done that is no longer authorized.  What happens now?  It seems to me that the government of Rhode Island will have deficit spent by that quarter billion dollars as of tomorrow.

Of course, we all know.  The state just ignores whatever laws or rules are necessary to keep its gravy train going, but what’s the cover story going to be?

ADDENDUM (6/30/17 10:06 p.m.):

This is weird.  A tweet from Ted Nesi says the RI Senate passed a bill giving additional money to RIPTA to keep up subsidized bus passes.  But that was in the House budget, which has not passed both chambers.

A little research shows that yesterday the House took a bill with related intent and amended it to match the language in the budget.  So, a bill that the House Finance committee had “held for further study” on May 9 suddenly reappeared in an amended form to match language that was supposedly expected to pass as part of the budget, and was rushed through the whole committee and floor-vote process the day before a surprise turn of events killing the budget.

I’m also hearing that some of the labor union gimmes that we’ve all assumed were quid pro quos to pass the speaker’s car tax phaseout managed to slip through despite the budget’s demise.  Although it is a bit more conspiracy-theoretical than I’m comfortable with, that does make me wonder how much of a surprise today’s events really were.



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