Rhode Island’s $9.9 billion budget for 2020 is expected to head to the House floor next week.
The spending plan, as is, will not include a number of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s initiatives, including universal pre-K and the expansion of the Rhode Island Promise program, which currently offers free tuition for select students at CCRI.
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The House Finance Committee was set to vote on the budget late Friday night. It is expected to pass.
House Speaker Nicolas Mattiello broke down the budget for reporters, noting two big takeaways.
While Raimondo wanted to introduce universal pre-k to Rhode Island, that will not be happening.
But Mattiello said more seats will be added and called it an aggressive expansion. It’s about half of what the governor wanted.
Mattiello said the General Assembly is trying to make a dent in the $100 million deficit, adding that the governor’s Rhode Island Promise expansion to include RIC will not happen either.
“Promise is a very complicated program,” Mattiello said. “It’s not limited to the university that you’re applying it to. It actually has consequences to all of the universities in the state (and) around it, so, at this point, because of the out-year programming (and) the restrictions in revenues, we did not believe it was the appropriate time.”
While Raimondo wanted to squeeze some money out of revising the car tax phase out, that doesn’t look like it will happen, nor will her hopes to legalize recreational marijuana. Her bid to raise $15 million by imposing a Medicaid tax on employers of more than 300 people was also not likely to receive approval.
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Mattiello said he’s proud of the budget and called it a “good one.” He said it invests in education and communities, restoring resources to hospitals.
Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio shared similar sentimetns.
“I am pleased that so many of the Senate’s priorities have been included in the budget the House Finance Committee took up this evening,” he noted, in part, in a statement “We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the House on the budget and many other priorities in the closing weeks of the legislative session.”
If the budget is approved as expected, the full House will vote next Friday.
It would then move to the Senate the following Tuesday.