Rhode Island lawmakers unveil $9.6 billion budget proposal
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The House of Representatives unveiled its $9.6 billion budget proposal Friday night, a plan that includes funding for school construction, legalizes sports betting and nixes the governor’s plan to expand the number of medical marijuana licenses in the state.
The House Finance Committee passed the bill later Friday night. The full House is expected to consider the proposal next week.
The House budget kept many of the themes laid out by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo in January. Both budgets would ask voters to authorize $250 million in bonds for the first phase of an ambitious school reconstruction plan, and both would legalize sports gambling in the state.
The House rebuffed the governor’s proposal to increase the number of medical marijuana licenses the state grants.
Here’s a look at some of the budget’s key items:
The state is looking to become one of the first in the nation to get in on the new market for sports betting freed up by the Supreme Court earlier this year. The governor allotted $23.5 million in revenue from the new system in her January proposal.
The Providence Journal reports the House version would also legalize the practice, while allowing the General Assembly to approve any deal the governor works out with the Twin River casino and the company that manages the bets.
The governor hoped to open up a new revenue stream and expand access to medical marijuana in the state by increasing the amount of licenses from 3 to 15 and letting card-holders from Massachusetts and Connecticut use the state’s dispensaries.
The House plan only includes the part of that plan that allows out-of-state cardholders to use the state’s dispensaries.
Governor Raimondo has called for a “once-in-a-generation” investment in the state’s crumbling school system. Her $1 billion plan begins with asking voters in November to authorize $250 million in bonds for the first phase of financing.
The House plan also contains that request, though WPRI-TV reports it includes “more stringent” language about communities obtaining funding.
Lawmakers had more freedom in June than in January. When Raimondo released her budget proposal, the state was looking at a $60 million deficit. But revenues exceeded expectations and the state ended up with tens of millions of dollars in surplus.
The Providence Journal reports Mattiello said the new plan uses that money to support human services, including the restoration of $18 million in services for people with developmental disabilities.