Finance panel sends budget to House floor
The House Finance Committee has approved a $9.56 billion budget that restores proposed cuts to services for the state’s most vulnerable populations while continuing to phaseout the car tax.
The bill passed by a 15-3 vote Friday, including approval from Rep. Deb Ruggiero, and will be considered by the full House of Representatives tomorrow.
“Overall, it’s a good budget,” said Ruggiero, a Democrat who serves Jamestown and Middletown. “My highlights are the two legislative priorities I’ve championed for the past two years.”
Ruggiero was referring to an additional
$400,000 to senior centers and extending foster care from 18 to 21 years old. Gov. Gina Raimondo included both measures in her budget.
“Anyone with an 18-year-old at home knows they are not ready to leave home, get an apartment, find a job, pay rent and finish high school,” Ruggiero said.
The budget includes a bond question for November’s ballot asking voters to approve $250 million in construction to replace the state’s crumbling public schools, which Ruggiero supports. The committee, however, added a requirement for communities to commit funding regular maintenance of new schools in order to be reimbursed.
The committee made several changes to social services proposed by Raimondo in January. It restored the $18 million proposed cut to programs that serve the intellectually or developmentally disabled, and eliminated $9.9 million in new co-pays for Medicaid enrollees for prescriptions and nonemergency visits to hospitals.
Out of concern for the effect on small businesses, the committee did not agree with the governor’s proposed 25-cent increase in the cigarette tax, nor the proposal to increase taxes on electronic cigarettes and vaping products.
The committee did not concur with the governor on her proposal to increase the number of medical marijuana dispensaries by fivefold to 15. The committee, however, did increase licensing fees to