Updated January 24 at 4:24pm

Report: R.I. budget contains $225M in non-essential spending

The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance released a new report Wednesday identifying nearly $225 million in non-essential government spending in Rhode Island that could be used instead to fund tax cuts and the repeal of the Sakonnet River Bridge tolls. More

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public policy

Report: R.I. budget contains $225M in non-essential spending

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(Updated, April 3, 3:20 p.m.)

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance released a new report Wednesday identifying nearly $225 million in non-essential government spending in Rhode Island that could be used instead to fund tax cuts and the repeal of the Sakonnet River Bridge tolls.

The “Spotlight on Spending” report, to be presented at a 3 p.m. press conference in the Statehouse Rotunda, attacks the “bloated and unwieldy” budget proposed by Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee for fiscal year 2015. The budget Chafee unveiled in January calls for $8.5 billion in state spending and an estimated $16.2 million in new tax revenue.

“Good government is about setting spending priorities [and] preserving opportunities in the state for residents who wish to succeed,” the Center for Freedom & Prosperity report stated. “Tax relief and job creation for Rhode Island families and reducing the crushing regulatory burden on the state’s business sector must be weighed against non-essential, sometimes wasteful, spending for projects that produce little benefit to the average resident.”

The largest spending cut recommended in the report would roll back Chafee’s proposed $50 million expansion of the historic tax credit program. Last year, the R.I. Division of Taxation offered $34.5 million in transferable credits, but had to hold a lottery to determine which projects would receive the credits since there were applications for $54.5 million in credits.

The Spotlight on Spending report identified another $34.9 million in “government handouts” to be trimmed from the budget, including $2.5 million to build a sailing center at Fort Adams State Park, $10 million to fund tuition freezes at the state’s public colleges and university, $12.3 million to pay down the debt incurred by Curt Schilling’s collapsed video game company 38 Studios LLC, $3 million to pay for renovations at McCoy Stadium and $775,000 to support the Volvo Ocean Race.

The 38 Studios debacle was among the reasons cited in the report as justification for the elimination of the R.I. Commerce Corporation, formerly known as the Economic Development Corporation.

“No matter what name the General Assembly has given the government agency tasked with improving the local economy, the concept hasn’t worked,” the report stated. The Center for Freedom & Prosperity estimated $6.2 million in savings for the state if it shuttered the agency.

Other potential savings opportunities highlighted in the report included:

  • $30.2 million to eliminate state spending that replaces decreased federal funding.

  • $19.1 million to reduce state employee overtime expenses.

  • $15.2 million to eliminate the Unified Health Infrastructure Program.

  • $11 million to eliminate House and Senate legislative grants and community service grants.

  • $8.4 million to eliminate the Governor’s Workforce Board.

  • $3.4 million to eliminate the R.I. Film and Television Office and associated tax credits.

  • $2.8 million to reduce facilities management costs by encouraging telecommuting.

  • $2.3 million to eliminate state funding for the R.I. State Council on the Arts.

In its assessment of RISCA’s grant-awarding program, the Center for Freedom & Prosperity criticized the agency’s support of “questionable and widely offensive art projects” that some taxpayers would find “in conflict with their political, ethical or religious beliefs.” The report recommended defunding RISCA and transferring its functions to a private nonprofit.

Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Spotlight on Spending, Lincoln D. Chafee, 38 Studios, EDC, R.I. Commerce Corporation, Governor's Workforce Board, RISCA, historic tax credits, Mike Stenhouse,
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fogleman

One person or group's "unnecessary" expense is another constituency's investment in the future. Cutting our state budget to the bone just to cut taxes is not a wise path. Advocates for this strategy are either (1) wealthy enough not to benefit from these investments, (2) untrusting of our government's judgement about what constitutes wise investments or (3) doesn't believe in our collective power to improve where we live.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 | Report this
RICKB@BOGHAV.COM

Yet again, PBN loves to publish the results of studies and polls, and while it attributes the source of the findings it doesn't provide information on the group and their motivations. It is left for the reader to do the research on who is this group, who funds them, what is the leadership. Only then can one determine if the group's findings have validity.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 | Report this
dgriffin

This group is not inferring to "cutting the state budget to the bone" by cutting programs such as the "Governors workforce program". The areas they are referring to cutting are areas that will not affect the average Rhode Island citizen, which they state in the article. The biggest problem in this State is everyone feels their issues or needs are THE most important and shouldn't be cut, SO the budget continues to grow and no one is willing to make the hard choices.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 | Report this
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