Governor Carcieri’s Budget: Early Reporting

The Governor has just releases his State budget proposal for next year. Scott Mayerowitz of the ProJo chose to highlight the “several accounting tricks, one-time sources of revenue and other gimmicks to balance his tax and spending plan,” (sheesh, no in-story editorializing there, Scott) and glossed over one major source of cuts (state workers). Ray Henry of the AP (via the Boston Globe) was more detailed in explaining the nature of those cuts:

Hundreds of state workers would be laid off and social spending programs would be slashed to close a $350 million budget deficit under a budget proposal released Wednesday by Gov. Don Carcieri.
The Republican governor’s $7.02 billion spending plan also taps into the state’s rainy-day fund to help close the gap. But it avoids tax increases and pumps money into education initiatives backed by Carcieri, a former math teacher, including expanding nursing programs and modestly increasing education assistance for cities and towns.
“The decisions contained in this revenue and expenditure plan were not easy ones to make, but they were made with careful consideration for the best interests of all Rhode Islanders,” Carcieri wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
His budget staff justified cutbacks by warning that expenditures were projected to grow 9 percent for the 2008 fiscal year starting in July. Revenue was only projected to increase around 4.3 percent. By law, Rhode Island must pass a balanced budget.
State workers are among the groups hit the hardest. Carcieri’s plan calls for saving $9.8 million by firing 168 state workers, both unionized employees and management. Carcieri’s plan would also privatize the food service and housekeeping staffs at a state hospital and veteran’s home, eliminating an additional 214 workers.
All nonessential employees would have to take three unpaid days off scheduled around the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays, a move that he estimated would shave $4.8 million off the deficit…

And just like last year, the Governor is targeting both RIte Care and Child Care subsidies (I can hear the shrieking now).

As required by a new federal law, Rhode Island health officials will begin demanding more proof of U.S. citizenship, for example a birth certificate or passport, before allowing people to enroll in subsidized health care services.
Those changes could force an estimated 5,700 people off RIte Care, the state’s insurance program for the needy, said Gary Alexander, the acting director of the Department of Human Services…
One of the larger social spending cuts would tighten the eligibility requirements for families that use state-subsidized child care programs, probably eliminating about 3,800 children from the program. Those children would largely come from families that already contribute some money toward their child care, Alexander said.

Of course, there’s much more and a lot of it won’t make many people happy. I don’t like that the Governor has chosen to freeze the car-tax reduction, has proposed several fee hikes and I don’t like the stop-gap measure of getting another tobacco settlement buyout. There’s a lot to go over, and I’m sure we’ll hear all sorts of whining from many quarters (including here). The lesson: don’t spend more than you take in and you won’t have to worry about “cuts.” Now we ALL will have to make some sacrifices to pay for our fiscal largesse.

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