Another Unlikely Budget Provision
I’m surprised nobody else has highlighted this provision noted in the Providence Journal’s summary of the RI House Finance Committee’s supplemental budget plan:
The budget would also change a school funding “maintenance of effort” provision that requires cities and towns to provide at least as much local money for school as was provided the year before. Instead, cities and towns would be able to cut that amount by 5 percent for the current year only.
Maybe it’s only because I’m up to my ears in budget details for Tiverton, but I’d say this is among the most significant changes that I’ve heard proposed, which is why I’ll be very, very surprised if it makes it into law. Requiring town councils to approve teacher contracts is also significant and unlikely to make it into law.
On a different note, I have to say that I’m still not a fan of mandating health coshare percentages. All we’re doing by pushing these changes up to the state level is increasing the power of the General Assembly and consolidating the target for which the unions have to shoot. As grassroots reformers, we’d do much better to concentrate on local elections and make the contractual changes where they belong: within the cities and towns.
Lastly, every time the General Assembly mucks with one of the governor’s proposed budgets, the same dynamic applies: They reduce the hit to everybody, and the game becomes finding out where they’re getting the money from; that’s the hand that they don’t want us to watch in their magic trick. In the current case, this appears to be it:
Budget hawks, meanwhile expressed concern that the package included a measure to “reamortize” the state retirement system’s $4.3 billion in unfunded pension liabilities over 25 years, a move akin to refinancing a mortgage that costs less now, but more over the long term. The state had been in the ninth year of a 30-year plan to pay off the massive debt.
The overall cost to taxpayers is $2.2 billion, according to House fiscal adviser Sharon Reynolds Ferland.
All they’ll be doing, with such a strategy, is making Rhode Island’s inevitable judgment day even more painful.