It’s B-Day, Part 2

[9:18] Ian Donnis tweets
Reps are wondering what they’ll be voting on with the Twin River amendment.

[9:22] Article 19 is up. This is the bulk of tax and fee changes, including some business taxes and the sales tax changes…
[9:24] Speaker Fox to William San Bento after he seconds a motion: “You don’t get up very often, I didn’t even know you could get up”.
[9:26] Helio Melo offers an amendment clarifying that a) the tour tax only applies to tours in Rhode Island, not tours bought in Rhode Island of places outside RI b) the digital download tax applies mainly to pre-written software.
[9:29] Bob Watson: Out of a 7 billion dollar budget, we can’t find 17 million more to cut, to avoid raising any taxes at all?
[9:31] Charlene Lima: What’s the logic in taxing something like Norton, which is almost a necessity for computers, versus taxing iTune song downloads, which is a luxury? Melo reiterates the pre-written distinction, and that it matches Massachusetts tax policy.
[9:39] Pat Morgan asks if we could run the Convention Center more effectively (and not lose $25 million a year on it) could we avoid raising taxes? Helio Melo answers he had not considered this in the context of Article 19.
[9:42] Lisa Tomasso asks about the insurance proceeds tax. I can’t say that I fully understand how it works, based on Melo’s answer.
[9:49] Peter Petrarca is trying to convince Charlene Lima that the state will get its insurance proceeds tax, but the consumer won’t feel any impact. I still don’t get this.
[9:51] Mike Chippendale proposes eliminating the over-the-counter drug tax (8.6 million dollars), and making up the difference with a cut to departmental operating budgets and grants.
[9:55] Melo speaks against the amendment. Departments have already been cut enough (10%), plus it’s really 12 million that would need to be cut, based on a full year worth of spending.
[9:57] Amendment fails 21 – 43. (And 43 reps go on record, specifically as being in favor of taxing over-the-counter drugs).
[9:59] Joe Trillo offers an amendment to eliminate the $17 million in tax increases, by cutting $17 million from uncompensated care to hospitals. And by the way, an exec from Lifespan got a $9+ million severance package. Also, he believes hospitals game the prices they charge for uncompensated care.
[10:06] Amendment fails 7-60.
[10:07] Karen MacBeth: Will the tour-tax apply to children going to see Santa Claus on the polar express? Helio Melo: Yes. MacBeth: Do we want to be known as the state that taxes Santa Claus?
[10:12] Article 19 passes. Now back to Article 13, some changes to vehicle registrations. It gets passed without debate.
[10:15] Article 20, changes to corrections policy, mostly relating to allowing medical paroles for prisoners who are severely ill.
[10:24] Doreen Costa says the AG oppposes Article 20.
[10:25] Article 20 passes, 43-26.
[10:26] Weird (to my mind) admonishment from Speaker Fox. If you are in your seat, it is your duty to vote. If you don’t want to vote, get up and leave. No voting “present” says Speaker Fox!
[10:27] While I was writing the 10:26 entry, Article 24 was read and passed, 66 – 1.
[10:32] Article 22, which is supposed to begin to eliminate the state’s dependence on bonded debt for paying for transportation projects, is on the floor. Jerimiah O’Grady mentions that 50% of gas tax revenue is now going to pay for debt service.
[10:39] Article 22 passes after a short debate.
[10:45] Article 12, amongst other things, allows cities and towns to require their retirees to enroll in Medicare, changes disability appeal procedures, places a 3 year moratorium on library construction, and requires municipalities to inform the state if they are likely to incur a debt.
[10:48] Jon Brien says the Medicare provision means that local taxpayers won’t have to subsidize lieftime retiree healthcare benefits — and that is real savings for cities and towns in the future.
[10:51] Rene Menard wants to know how this Article will impact the Blue Cross for life he receives as a retired, disabled firefighter. Helio Melo says he could be changed to Medicare by age 65.
[10:53] Menard takes exception to communities saying they cannot afford their disability costs anymore. Don’t blame the people receiving disability benefits, blame the administrations awarding them.
[10:56] Brian Newberry discusses how healthcare for life was awarded by arbitrators in the 1980s, when its true cost was unforseen, and this article begins to undo a burden on the taxpayers that was never intended.
[11:06] House members are now debating the provision in the Article eliminating the requirement that school committees publish notice of their meetings in a newspaper.
[11:19] Dan Gordon just got applause for saying “I’ve been uncharacteristically silent this evening”, beginning his statement on the subject of the library construction moratorium.
[11:22] Roberto DaSilva says the Medicare provision is an attack on collective bargaining. This is at least the third budget item he has described in that way. Scott Slater and Arthur Handy challenge DaSilva’s perspective.
[11:25] Jon Brien: We need to provide what we can afford, and we cannot afford locally-funded healthcare for life.
[11:27] Article 12 passes in sections, on separate votes.
[11:28] Article 23, changes to various human services programs. Floor manager Eileen Naughton offers an immediate amendment related to prescription drugs for the elderly.
[11:30] Maria Cimini objects to a cut in supplemental security income payments to elderly recipients.
[11:31] Article 23 passes, 60-8.

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13 years ago

Loving this coverage, Andrew!

13 years ago

” the Medicare provision means that local taxpayers won’t have to subsidize lieftime retiree healthcare benefits — and that is real savings for cities and towns in the future.”
This is one of a list of very reasonable measures that should have been legislated in this state 30+ years ago.

13 years ago

While the R.I. House taxes visits to Santa…the New York Senate does the right thing, with help from Republican members standing up to all kinds of political intimidation. Viva Nueva York!

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
13 years ago

This Roberto DaSilva character has quickly replaced David Segal as the GA’s Top Scumbag, just edging out Scott Guthrie and and Mary Beth Messier who made it close: A union scumbag who wears his scumbaggery right on his sleeve without the tiniest bit of cover or misderiction.

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