A new state representative from Cranston, Robert Lancia, has begun his work trying to inform the public:
Back in 1992 the General Assembly, due to the banking crisis, began to end the practice of using restricted receipt accounts. Restricted receipt accounts were created to put collected money into specified accounts for specific purposes.
For example, user fees were implemented at state beaches; $1 for state residents and $4 for non-state residents “to be dedicated to development and renovation of recreation projects and for additional acquisition of recreation areas.” Essentially, the money was to be used for a “state beach, park, and recreation development fund.” We paid those beach fees back then, and even higher fees now, because we were told the money went to promote recreational areas. Now your beach fees can go to any program within the state budget. Did you know that?
Here’s another limited transparency issue. Look at your next landline or cell phone bill, notice the $1 assessed on each bill for 911.
In 2014, over $15 million was collected for 911 services. Of that amount collected, only a little over five million dollars ($5,400,000) was used for that purpose. In 2000, the General Assembly changed the law redirecting these previously restricted revenues into “the state general fund.” Did you know that?
And on it goes. We’re all busy in our lives, and it’s easy to forget each affront as they pile upon each other. It’s worth reading reminders.