State Representatitve Carol Mumford: Update on the Budget
State Representative Carol Mumford (R-Cranston/Scituate), Senior Deputy Minority Leader and a member of the House Finance Committee, paid a visit to last night’s South Kingstown GOP Town Committee meeting, allowing me a change to ask her about the legislature’s progress (if you can call it that) on the state budget…
Anchor Rising: Are you getting any hints from the Finance Committee about what direction solving the state budget crisis is going to take?
State Representative Carol Mumford: All I know is that there are still arguments even as far as the FY ’08 supplemental. We were at least supposed to put the ’08 supplemental to bed by April 1, now we’re not even going to hear it until April 22. In order to get the savings that the Governor wanted, we really had to start putting the supplemental in place on April 1, but we did not. That means we still have a 150 million dollar shortfall in ’08 and a 450 million shortfall in ’09. Together, that is a 600 million dollar shortfall.
Unless we put together the Governor’s implementation of what he wanted to do as far as items like shut-down days and RIte Care eligibility, unless we do that right now, we are facing an even higher burden on the state.
AR: With the annual budget bill, it seems that the public gets the minimum amount of notice between its official presentation and its final passage. When we get to the ’09 budget is there any chance the Democratic leadership will maybe give the public a week or two to consider it?
CM: There is a week. We hear it in House finance, then there is a week afterwards for all of the members of the House to read it. They keep trying to shorten it to five days, but it is still seven days between when the House Finance committee passes it and its coming to the House floor. However, the only chance the public will have to speak on the budget will be when it is when it’s heard in House Finance. There will not be a subsequent chance after its passed by the committee.
I don’t quite understand, when there’s a Democratic majority in the House, why they think they need to shorten from 7 days to 5. I’m on the rules committee. They were going to change the rules this session, which was really odd, because we only revisit the rules every two years. Technically, we weren’t supposed to touch the rules this year, but they were going to do wide, sweeping change, in an election year, just one year after we’d already put together a full plan. They already control the House. I don’t know why they would need even more advantage, unless they thought that this was going to be such a difficult budget, they might be losing some of their numbers. Fortunately, they didn’t do it.