Lawmakers poised to unveil own version of state budget
State legislators plan to unveil their version of $9.3 billion spending plan, and questions over its content remain.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — After months of late-night hearings, boisterous State House rallies and impassioned pleas for more money than Gov. Gina Raimondo proposed last January, state lawmakers may unveil their own version of her $9.3-billion spending plan on Thursday or, if that proves overly optimistic, on Friday.
Among the big unanswered questions:
How will the lawmakers divvy up the millions of new gambling dollars from sports wagering? Will Rhode Island expand the medical-marijuana market from three to 15 dispensaries? If not, will they open the door to new revenue another way by, for example, allowing out-of-staters with medical marijuana cards to buy from Rhode Island’s thriving cultivator market?
Will lawmakers end the diversion to the state’s General Fund of millions of dollars collected from E-911 fees, ostensibly charged, on telephone bills, for emergency service?
Will they, as promised, avert proposed new Medicaid co-pays and cuts in the funding levels sought by hospitals, nursing homes and the developmentally disabled population?
In recent days, Raimondo’s critics — including her Republican challengers — have called for the dismantling of the super-agency, known as the executive Office of Health and Human Services. The agency has been at the center of one controversy after another involving the state’s child-welfare and human-services agencies, from infant deaths to the court-appointment of a special master to oversee food stamp eligibility-approvals by the state’s $492-million, trouble-prone computer system, known as “UHIP.”
Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan — a Republican candidate for governor — led a bipartisan group of lawmakers demanding an investigation of EOHHS, in light of revelations this week that it put a lawyer suspended from the practice of law at the helm of a Medicaid dispute