House Finance sets Friday hearing; budget draft comingJune 15th, 2011 at 3:57 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes
With less than three weeks to go before the start of the new fiscal year, Rhode Islanders are about to get their first look at legislative leaders’ tax-and-spending plan for 2011-12.
The House Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the budget proposal – and likely vote on it – this Friday at 4 p.m., according to a notice posted this afternoon on the General Assembly’s website.
Once the finance committee approves the budget, the chamber must wait a week to take it up, which means the full House is likely to hold its traditional marathon budget hearing on Friday, June 24.
House and Senate leaders have been meeting for weeks to come together on a revised blueprint after lawmakers rejected the initial version of Governor Chafee’s sales-tax overhaul, a centerpiece of his $7.7 billion proposal. Cuts in social services are among the alternatives reportedly being considered to close a $186 million shortfall.
The actual text of legislative leaders’ budget proposal will be released at Friday’s hearing. Few details about its contents have emerged so far. The tax-and-spending plan isn’t finished yet, but it’s far enough along that lawmakers felt comfortable scheduling the key hearing, House spokesman Larry Berman told WPRI.com.
“In the next 48 hours there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” Berman said Wednesday afternoon. The governor’s office has been taking part in the budget talks along with House and Senate leaders, he said.
Both the finance committee and the full House will vote on each article of the budget bill separately; Chafee’s budget proposal contained 43 articles, though legislators’ revised version may have a different total. Theirs will be labeled House Bill No. 5894 Sub A.
Members of the House Finance Committee and the press are usually given briefings about the budget’s contents the morning of the committee hearing. Rank-and-file members will spend the week between the hearing and the full House vote reviewing the document and crafting potential amendments.
If the House approves the budget on June 24, it could then move to the Senate Finance Committee as soon as Tuesday, June 28, and could come before the full Senate a day later on Wednesday, June 29.
If the Senate approves the bill as enacted by the House, it would then go to the governor, who could either sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature. If the Senate amends the budget, however, it would have to go back to the House first.