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  • March 24, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    A new, wide-ranging Brown University poll is out. Among the highlights: mixed views on Governor Chafee's sales tax proposal (lowering the rate from 7 to 6 percent, adding a 1 percent tax on some items, expanding the number of items to be taxed), poor approval ratings for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representative David Cicilline, and solid support for organized labor (Wisconsin, ye seem so far away).

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  • March 11, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    Governor Lincoln Chafee is promising comprehensive pension reform later this legislative session. It looks like he could have his work cut out for him.

    Last year, the Pew Center on the States graded the states' pension system - based, in part, on the funding ratio in each state. Standard accounting practices say a pension fund should be at least 80 percent funded.

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  • March 08, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    As details of the governor's proposed budget start to leak out, a mixed reaction in the upper reaches of the General Assembly.

    Chafee's proposal to lower the sales tax rate from 7 to 6 percent, while broadening the items covered, has some appeal - the 1 percent drop can be sold to the public, perhaps, even if more items are covered.

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  • January 31, 2011
    By David Scharfenberg

    The hurdles to a Frank Caprio political comeback are many: the "shove it" comment will be forever attached to his name and the progressive base of the state's Democratic Party seems unlikely to warm up to a candidate who essentially ran as a moderate Republican.

    But if Caprio, the former state treasurer, runs for major office again - and I think he could, perhaps as a Republican - he could face another hurdle.

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  • November 19, 2010
    By David Scharfenberg

    From the Huffington Post:

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) met with labor unions, seniors organizations, and liberal members of Congress Thursday afternoon to develop an alternative proposal to the deficit commission's draft report released last week.

    The meeting included Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Reps.

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  • September 22, 2010
    By David Scharfenberg

    State Representative Steven Costantino's post as chairman of the House Finance Committee proved a major drain on his bid for the Providence mayor's office, given the state's budget woes.

    But Costantino remains a respected figure in political circles, given his deep knowledge of the state's budget process. And the chatter on Smith Hill has him possibly returning to the State House next year as a budget official in a new gubernatorial administration.

    Keep your eye out.

  • January 12, 2010
    By David Scharfenberg

    Arizona, facing a budget crisis that may be even worse than Rhode Island's, is selling the Capitol. And a few other buildings. From USA Today:

    Arizona's state buildings -- including the capitol, the governor's office, the state hospital and state prisons -- go on sale today as the financially pressed state tries to raise money to plug a $4.

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  • October 06, 2009
    By David Scharfenberg

    Perpetually at odds with the Democratic legislature and pushing further and further into his lame-duck period, Governor Carcieri rarely has an opportunity to claim a high-profile victory. But he gets that opportunity today, with members of a key state workers' union signing off on a cost-cutting deal that will impose a temporary pay cut in a bid to cover a portion of the state's budget shortfall.

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  • June 02, 2009
    By David Scharfenberg

    Word from a Smith Hill source that the House leadership will allow Democrats to caucus and review next year's budget before the finance committee takes it up.

    Doesn't sound like a big deal, I know. But for years, the leadership has jealously guarded its control over the budget - the single most important piece of legislation the General Assembly cranks out each year.

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  • January 22, 2009
    By Ian Donnis

    Pat is wondering whether a directive by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel will stop Governor Caricier's global Medicaid waiver.

    Meanwhile, the NYT -- which has a front-pager today looking at growing Medicaid costs in a number of states, has a sidebar on how Rhode Island is pursuing a different approach.

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  • January 17, 2009
    By Ian Donnis

    In her first in-depth TV interview since formally winning election as Senate president, M. Teresa Weed talks about the budget, economic development, her leadership team, immigration, port development and other topics on WPRI-WNAC-TV's Newsmakers (video here and here). The show is typically broadcast Sundays at 5:30 am on Channel 12, and at 10 am on Fox 64.

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  • January 17, 2009
    By Ian Donnis

    The bombast in East Providence this week seems like a taste of things to come, and this inclusion in the budget will pour more fuel on the fire.

    From Ray Henry of the Providence AP, via the Boston Globe:

    A budget plan that Governor Don Carcieri submitted this month to close a massive deficit includes a provision making it illegal for teachers to protest during contract negotiations by performing strictly to the terms of their contracts, for example, by refusing to host after-school clubs or chaperone school dances.

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  • January 14, 2009
    By Ian Donnis

    It is timely and all.

    From the Institute:

    Tomorrow, over 200 Rhode Islanders, including local and state policymakers, representatives from nonprofit organizations, labor & religious groups, and Rhode Island citizens will attend the 2009 Budget Rhode Map.

    The state budget is Rhode Island’s most important policy document, yet many Rhode Islanders are in the dark when it comes to how the budget is developed.

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  • January 09, 2009
    By Ian Donnis

    Speaking of 2010, General Treasurer Frank Caprio, while steadily deflecting questions about his forthcoming gubernatorial run, continues to dramatically elevate the public profile of his current position.

    Following Governor Carcieri's televised budget address on Wednesday, for example, Caprio commented on WJAR -- an opportunity that came after communications director Tim Gray made the treasurer's availability known to various media outlets.

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  • January 09, 2009
    By Ian Donnis

    Elsewhere in blogland . . .

    Matt, following up on Grow Smart RI and today's ProJo, faults Governor Carcieri for being late to the stimulus party . . .

    And Justin crunches some numbers to conclude that the gov was correct, in response to my query on Newsmakers, in saying middle class Rhode Islanders have not assumed a greater part of the tax burden in recent years.

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