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R.I. House Minority Leader Brian C. Newberry is proposing to strengthen existing law regarding making clear the cost of new legislation. What a grand idea.
Mr. Newberry said in a press release last week that requiring fiscal notes – defined in existing law as a brief explanatory statement that makes transparent the estimated revenue and expense of proposed legislation – is already the law for all proposals with financial impacts. Yet he contends that it is often ignored. For example, he says, in 2013, 289 bills were heard by the House Finance Committee but just 21 had fiscal notes attached.
No matter whether the proposed legislation is something that is universally loved or despised, it just makes sense to know what its impacts on the state’s budget would be, so far as can be estimated in advance.
This year’s legislative session will have a number of controversial initiatives to consider (previous PBN coverage highlighted pension reform, 38 Studios and bridge tolls, but there will be more). Mr. Newberry’s proposal, however, is not that complex. The General Assembly should make it the first piece of legislation it considers and then passes. •