Lawmakers unveil $13.1B state budget proposal

June 18, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island lawmakers have proposed a $13.1 billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year that boosts spending on social services and education.

The House Finance Committee proposal unveiled Thursday night is almost $2 billion bigger than Gov. Daniel McKee’s $11.2 billion budget plan, with most of the difference made up of federal pandemic stimulus funds and about $180 million of the increase funded by state general revenue, WPRI-TV reported.

“Whenever I can use a federal dollar instead of a state dollar, I want to use a federal dollar,” Democratic House Speaker Joe Shekarchi said.

The plan does not increase income taxes on the wealthy or impose a new tax on sugary drinks, while the sales and corporate tax rates will remain the same.

Lawmakers did, however, raise the threshold for a tax on profits made by businesses that received payment protection program loans during the pandemic from $150,000 to $250,000.

ADVERTISEMENT

The proposal includes budget increases for Rhode Island College and the state Department of Children, Youth and Families.

The budget also addresses the state’s housing problem including the creation of a new housing “czar” who would focus on making housing more accessible.

Without enough affordable housing for workers, companies will not move to the state, Shekarchi said.

The proposal was sent to the full House for a debate and vote next week. Once the budget passes the House it will head to the Senate, before going to the governor’s desk for his signature.

The fiscal year begins July 1.