Under Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo’s failed leadership, Rhode Island’s budget issues are getting even worse. After Raimondo’s administration failed to move fast enough to make cuts mandated by the state’s most recent budget, a legislative expert is painting an “alarming” picture. Rhode Island is now facing a $200 million budget gap for the next eighteen months, which is significantly higher than the roughly $60.2 million shortfall Rhode Island is on track to run in the current fiscal year. The expert emphasized that “the administration waited months to get serious about the effort” and suggested that time is running out for a turnaround.
Out of control budget gaps are nothing new for the Raimondo administration, but instead of doing her job and taking action to address the problem, she’s neglected her responsibility and refused to act quickly to make needed cuts. As a result, Rhode Island’s budget gap has ballooned massively and the state’s problems are only getting worse. The people of Rhode Island deserve better.
“A legislative expert painted an alarming picture of Rhode Island’s finances Tuesday, warning of more than $200 million in red ink over the next 18 months and questioning whether Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration has moved fast enough to tackle the problem.
Sharon Reynolds Ferland, the House fiscal advisor, told the House Finance Committee the main culprits are the same ones identified in the past: spending that goes up faster than revenue year after year, particularly on social services for low-income and vulnerable residents, combined with relatively weak growth in tax receipts.
‘Your revenues grow at a slower rate than your expenditures,’ she told the committee. ‘It’s an ongoing issue.’
The State Budget Office said last month the state is on track to run a $60.2 million deficit in the current 2017-18 fiscal year, which ends June 30, and then is facing an additional $204 million deficit in the 2018-19 fiscal year. The governor is scheduled to unveil her plan for closing the budget gap by Jan. 18.
Ferland’s estimates differ somewhat from the budget office’s, but her bottom line was basically the same: a sizable shortfall in the current budget year, which is nearly half over, and a much larger one in the new year that begins July 1.
Ferland expressed the most concern about the deficit in the current budget, suggesting time is running out for a turnaround. It’s the first time Rhode Island has faced a midyear gap since the fall of 2014, during then-Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s final year in office.
‘You have six months left to solve it,’ Ferland said.
The budget enacted by lawmakers over the summer was balanced on the premise Raimondo would find $25 million in unspecified savings. Yet Ferland suggested the administration waited months to get serious about the effort, noting a voluntary-retirement program has only recently been announced and hiring has not slowed.
‘It does seem like there’s some sort of delayed course correction,’ Ferland said. ‘Some of these issues have been lingering and they don’t appear to be on the right track yet. … There’s something there that’s lacking.’
‘The urgency is not as much as you would expect,’ she added.”