The new state Office of Management and Budget is hard at work on the fiscal 2014 spending plan Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee will present to the General Assembly. It will be the first budget proposal vetted under the direction of OMB Director Peter Marino, a former state Senate fiscal adviser.
So what will this mean for the notoriously partisan and behind-the-scenes state budget-planning process? In all likelihood, not much, at least in the short-term.
In a newsmaker interview on page 4 in this issue, Marino tells PBN the new office’s role is to inject some discipline, accountability and long-range planning into the state budget process. Commendable goals, though all things that supposedly already were being done by the four state offices that were combined to form OMB.
The reality is the success of OMB and the independent governor who proposed it to focus budget planning on more than annual crisis control relies strongly on the willingness of House Democratic leaders – who still control the budget process – to buy in.
If they come to see the office as a focused, nonpartisan tool for budget planning and year-round data analysis, then it has a chance. If not, then the budget plans it helps craft will land in the same circular resting place in the Statehouse as most fiscal proposals from Chafee and his two Republican predecessors. •