RI Democrats Promise Spending Cuts….but where?
Senate leaders yesterday offered what they hailed as a “property-tax reduction plan.”
. . . Senate Democrats — led by Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Paiva Weed — suggested the legislature instead take steps to rein in future growth in state and local spending. . .
The senators are proposing to lower, over six years, the current ceiling on annual city and town spending increases from 5.5 percent to 4 percent of the tax levy, starting in fiscal year 2008. . .Similarly, the senators are seeking to lower, by 2012, the cap on state spending increases from 5.5 percent of total appropriations, including federal funds, to 4.5 percent of all state taxes and fees.
After years of nudging from school superintendents across the state, they also pledged their support to a bill, introduced by Sen. Maryellen Goodwin on March 9, that would prohibit the state from imposing any new mandates on local school districts “without the provision of adequate and commensurate funding by and from the state to insure that the city or town is able to pay for such mandate.”
…the senators pledged “to continue to work on reducing the property-tax burden of Rhode Islanders” by launching a new study of school financing, and accumulating information on all current tax treaties, exemptions and freezes granted across the state.
The story is devoid of any specifics as to what type of spending is going to be reduced. Instead, we are left with a promise to reduce unfunded mandates, to decrease the amount of annual budget increases via a new spending cap and the commissioning of various “studies.”
This seems like a nice conceptual and structural change, but what exactly, pray tell, do the Democrats plan on cutting? Do they really need more time to “study” the problem? It’s a bit disingenuous to lambaste the Governor for his proposed budget cuts and then–instead of countering with your own specific cuts–issue a vague, non-specific promise of reductions. Anyone can get behind the idea of cutting government spending, I’ll take the Democrats seriously when they actually put forward some specific cuts.