Last Year’s Supplemental Budget

14Apr10

Ok, first things first. Today is April 14. The fiscal year ends on June 30. In about 75 days or so. So when would you think the budget should be complete and accurate for this year? 75 days before it’s over? How hard is it to create a budget for a year that is over? Apparently harder than we’d think.

Also, the General Assembly asked the Governor to create a supplemental budget for them to crucify him over, and they asked for it back in November. They received it in December. So why are they taking the first actions on it in April?

Reading today’s Providence Journal article about it, it sure sounds like not much has changed over there at the State House.

Even a representative that I’ve long had differences of opinion with offered up a good amendment, only to be shot down.  Rep Charlene Lima of Cranston asked that all elected officials trying to gain money from a new EDC program need to be identified by name and office, but that was rejected.  Yeah, the last thing we want is to have any kind of transparency in government.   Finance Chairman Steve Constantino said “There are some risks you have to take. … We have to start somewhere.”  If there are admitted risks to this program, then why not put in safeguards?  Or at least some transparency?  The vote was 46 to 25.  I’m guessing those 46 already have their eyes on that money for their own personal business.

Rep Joe Trillo wanted to add a provision that all municipal employees must pay at least 15% of their health care premiums.  Also shot down by the body.  I like the idea of what Joe was trying to do and can certainly appreciate it, but this is pretty unRepublican.  As a Republican, I believe in the government being hands-off, be as small as possible.  Let the individual municipalities make their own agreements and deals without more rules from the state.  Yes, I think all municipal employees should pay at least 15% of their health insurance, but I don’t want the State House forcing that on us.  If we say that’s ok, then how can we argue against any other unfunded mandates or complain when the state puts rules on the local governments?  We can’t say it’s ok just when we like the rules we’re being forced into.

Lastly, the Assembly agreed to “refinance” the pension debt rather than fixing it.  They grabbed a short term savings for a long term mess.   Some day, this will need to be paid, and already we don’t have the money to support it.  This just made it worse.   Some passages in the article make it sound like the Senate will not support this provision, nor does the Governor, but it’s a little scary that the House passed it anyway, making me think the Senate will approve it.

It’s good to know that the ways of the General Assembly are still alive and well in Providence.  The November elections can’t come soon enough.  Now if we just had a non-Democratic party that could start getting up on the stump and telling everyone about what just happened with this budget.

Oh, and now they get to work on next year’s budget.  In an election year.  Let’s all keep watching.

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