Another Quick Fix is In
Lawmakers likely will have $102 million more revenue to balance the budget than previously thought, thanks in part to House Bill 6473 (PDF), which authorizes the state to raise $195 million from the sale of tobacco settlement bonds….The move essentially fills a hole created last month when state leaders learned they would not receive an expected $100-million settlement from the insurance giant American International Group.
…Rachel Miller, director of the advocacy group RI Jobs with Justice, react[ed] to news of the tobacco settlement plan. “But even if it creates solutions for this year, we’re still going to face this problem next year.”
…Gary S. Sasse, head of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, echoed Miller’s concern that the state was again turning to a one-time revenue fix to fill a structural deficit only expected to grow in the coming years.
“To the extent that we use the tobacco settlement to balance the budget…we continue a practice that has gotten us into trouble,” he said. “We’ve been too dependent on non-recurring revenues.” He noted the irony of using a one-time budget fix (the tobacco bonds) to fill another that fell apart (the AIG settlement).
Ah. The tobacco settlement, the gift that keeps on giving to our government.
How’s that anti-smoking campaign going?