Groundwork for Political Cover

I’m not saying that the governor’s supplemental budget is perfect, nor am I claiming evidence of his staff’s diligence with regard to the items included therein, but this has the sound of political cover being draped over intentions to shift the onus of the budget fix and not to make necessary changes:

“This is extremely grim,” [House Finance Committee Chairman Steven M.] Costantino said. “We are set toward a catastrophe unless we act quickly. It’s also grim in the fact that many of the items in this budget are one-time fixes and gimmicks that are not tied to good budgeting practices, as well as some actions that realistically may not meet the timetable as set forth in the budget.” …
[House Fiscal Adviser Michael] O’Keefe warned the legislators to pay close attention to details and be wary of proposed cuts that may not have been properly scrutinized to ensure the promised savings. “There’s a heavy reliance on items that the necessary research appears not to have been done,” he told the committee.

It’s a bit much for members of the General Assembly to begin complaining about one-time fixes and gimmicks now. It was clear at the time that they passed it that the current budget was no different — probably worse — than the governor’s supplemental in this regard. Moreover, some of the changes proposed by the governor are structural, long-term repairs as much as they are short-term saving measures.

Their good humor was short-lived. Moving forward, lawmakers will have little room — and little time — to revise this budget and still achieve the savings they need to close the deficit.

This is true, but it’s fair to ask: Where, then, have they been? If it’s a point of criticism that the governor’s plan requires vetting and the General Assembly lacks the time, then why didn’t it convene sooner?
I have my concerns about the supplemental budget, and it worries me that the House fiscal adviser is even able to make claims about a lack of substantiation, but as I’ve already said, the governor must make the General Assembly own any changes to the plan. His mantra must become, “This is not the budget that I submitted.”
Above everything else, Rhode Island needs the political game and the shifting of blame to cease. We need stark lines around decisions and their makers.

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13 years ago

“many of the items in this budget are one-time fixes and gimmicks that are not tied to good budgeting practices”

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

Yeah, the General Assembly will have to quit smoking cold turkey this year.
Their mismanagement of the finances of this state is simply mind-boggling.
Thanks to them Rhode Island has STARTED the worst national recession in decades with;
Un-maintained, cratered roads and literally collapsing bridges (un-maintained in spite of one of the highest tax burdens in the country – don’t ask where the money went);
Five, and now seven BILLION dollars in unfunded pension obligations (not including retiree health care and municipal plan shortfalls);
Decades of national rankings as being among the most employer-hostile states in the country (no wonder employers won’t come here);
Public schools that rank well below average compared to other states, in spite of some of the highest expenditures in the country (our unskilled workforce being yet another why employers don’t want to come here);
A national reputation for political corruption (yet another reason why employers don’t want to come here);
A national, even international reputation as a welfare magnet.
Thanks to the General Assembly, our “economic policy” is to import welfare recipients while exporting college graduates and jobs.
An acquaintance went to the SBA sponsored event a week or two ago with businesspersons and General Assembly people. He reported that, as in past years, the GA folks just gave a lot of vague happy talk about working together. No doubt once returned to the back rooms of Smith Hill they went back to business as usual, just as in past years.
Rhode Island is SO screwed!

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