Gov. Gina Raimondo’s first budget proposes stripping about $2.5 million in state Payments-in-lieu of Taxes aid from Providence city government and another $1.1 million in such payments from Cranston. If you believe the General Assembly is going to allow these cuts you probably believe in the Easter Bunny.
Raimondo’s problem: The communities being hit on this one happen to be home to two of the most influential state lawmakers –House Speaker Nick Mattiello, D-Cranston, and House Majority Leader John DeSimone, D-Providence.
Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican, has already approached Mattiello about ensuring that the city doesn’t lose the so-called PILOT money. The PILOT program channels money to cities that are host communities for state-owned land and large non-profit institutions that are not subject to local property taxes. In Cranston that includes the state prisons and large state office complexes, such as the Traffic Tribunal and the Emergency Management facility. Providence is home to many non-profit hospitals, including Miriam and Rhode Island Hospitals, as well as Providence College, Brown University, Rhode Island College, The University of Rhode Island’s Providence campus and the Rhode Island School of Design.
Fung, who ran against Raimondo for governor, has already talked to Mattiello about the money, says Carlos Lopez, the mayor’s chief of staff. Lopez also said that the issue is important because Cranston is also losing state support to the tune of about another $1 million under a program that helps distressed cities. Cranston is no longer on that list, Lopez said, because the city’s budget is under control.
In Providence, the city’s case is also helped by the presence of Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, D-Providence.
A top Statehouse source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that Mattiello and DeSimone ``have no intention’’ of letting Raimondo’s PILOT cuts take effect.