So We’re Running In the Red? Let’s Spend Spend Spend!
Hm. I thought the RI State government was losing money this year. According to this ProJo piece, I’m left to conclude that the General Assembly believes in deficit spending (H/T Dan Yorke for reminding me!) :
At a time when financial constraints have forced other arms of state government to talk about widespread layoffs, the closing of group homes and the release of hundreds of prisoners, General Assembly leaders are proposing a 14-percent increase in their own spending.
The lawmakers are planning to hire at least nine more staff and raise their own spending ceiling from $32.2 million this year to $36.8 million during the year that begins next July 1, according to a spending plan submitted to the governor last month.
The increase reflects the same 3-percent raises for Assembly staff that most other state workers expect next year. But the lawmakers do not pay a share of their health insurance premiums, as others state workers do. And they do not need state Budget Office approval to spend what they want.
Exactly what the lawmakers plan to do with that extra $4.5 million is not clear from the filing signed by House Speaker William J. Murphy, chairman of the five-member Joint Committee on Legislative Services.
But here’s a hint.
In a Nov. 9 letter apprising Governor Carcieri of the Assembly’s plans, Murphy acknowledged that the lawmakers are still rolling multimillion-dollar surpluses forward from one year to the next.
In addition to the $32.2 million they budgeted for themselves this year, he indicated, they expect to have an additional $2.9 million actually available for spending.
As he explained it, a big chunk of that money — $2.2 million — was earmarked a year earlier for legislative grants “that were not processed” before that year ended.
Late Friday, House spokesman Larry Berman released this statement from Marisa White, director of the Joint Committee on Legislative Services: “The budget request reflects the legislature’s projected needs for the 2008 fiscal year. It remains to be seen what the ultimate budget will be after the Finance Committee conducts its review process.”
Well, lookee here! Didn’t get around to “processing” those grants last year? Why not…those palms didn’t need anymore greasing? So the solution is to spend those grants instead of putting that money toward the shortfall?!!
UPDATE: Yorke asks: What other $13,000/year position entitles you to free health care? First caller was a Teamster who said he got free healthcare. As a former member of an AFL-CIO affiliated union, I received “free” health care, too. It was provided by the union to which I belonged, not my employer, which I believe is S.O.P. Did I mention that I also paid some pretty significant dues for the “privilege” of being in said union? I wonder how much of that money went to my “free” healthcare?