House budget would kill governor's plan to expand marijuana dispensaries
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — General Assembly leaders late Friday unveiled — and called for immediate votes — on their $9.6-billion rewrite of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposed budget, which paves the way for legal sports betting and snuffs out a proposed expansion of medical marijuana dispensaries.
Among the highlights of the proposed 2018-19 budget, approved by the House Finance Committee by a 15-3 vote:
— Lawmakers provided cities and towns with enough money — a total of $54.7 million — to cut their local car taxes for the second year in a row.
— They paved the way for the introduction of wagering on college and pro sports at Twin River’s state-operated casinos in Lincoln and Tiverton.
— They killed Democrat Raimondo’s attempt to expand Rhode Island’s medical-marijuana market from three authorized dispensaries to 15, while allowing them to sell to medical-marijuana card holders from out of state.
— The reworked bill would give voters a chance in November to approve borrowing $250 million for school construction.
With more revenue than Raimondo saw on the horizon when she proposed her tax-and-spending plan in early winter, they also rejected her proposed cigarette tax hike and new co-pays for Medicaid enrollees, reversed a proposed $15.7-million cut in hospital funding, restored $18 million in services for people with developmental disabilities, and managed to find enough money to pay the retroactive election-year wage hikes Raimondo gave state workers at a projected cost of $10.8 million this year and $35.4 million in the year that starts July 1.
“With the increased resources, there was consensus among our members for human [services] restoration, so we applied more resource to hospitals, home care workers and the developmentally disabled,” Mattielo told reporters at a budget briefing.
The new budget would spend $221 million more than Raimondo’s $9.3 billion budget proposal