On a 14 to 2 vote, the House Finance Committee approved early Wednesday an almost $9 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello touted the spending plan as pro-business and pro-citizen, pointing to how it cuts the state corporate minimum tax by $50, t0 $400; almost halves fees to go to state beaches; and includes Governor Raimondo's $30 million a year cut in unemployment insurance cost for employers.Listen to Ian Donnis and Elisabeth Harrison discuss key elements of the budget.
"I'm very proud of this budget," Mattiello said. "There are no new taxes or fees for the general public. In fact, we've eliminated those that were proposed, reduced fees and provided tax relief for seniors, low-income earners and small businesses, while maintaining out commitment to economic development, educaiton and the environment."
The spending plan does not include Raimondo's proposal to hike the minimum wage to $10.10, or her proposal to hike the cigarette tax from $3.75 a pack to $4, although it sharply cuts, to about $25 a plant, the governor's proposal for new fees on growers of medical marijuana.
The House budget also exempts from taxes the first $15,000 of annual pension income for retirees, regardless of whether the source is public or private, for retirees who earn up to $80,000 for single filers, and up to $100,000 for joint filers. The retirement age is determined by Social Security.
Representatives Patricia Morgan (R-West Warwick) and Anthony Giarrusso (R-East Greenwich) voted against the budget, arguing that lawmakers did not have adequate time to vet it.
The budget vote took place at 1:30 am Wednesday, following a brief overview of more than 20 individual budget articles by House Fiscal Adviser Sharon Reynolds Ferland that began less than two hours earlier.
The budget includes most of Raimondo's proposed bond questions, although not one for school construction.
On the governor's proposal to provide more aid to traditional schools districts sending students to charter schools, House budget allows districts "to reduce payments by either 7 percent of the per-pupil tuition cost or the average difference between per-pupil unique costs of the sending districts and those of the charter schools, whichever is greater."
The spending plan taxes ride services like Uber as if they are taxis.
The full House is slated to vote on the budget next Wednesday.