June 18, 2009

I figured it out!

Justin Katz

The budget summary that Marc posted last night caught my eye:

Overall spending is up 12 percent from the $6.92-billion state budget approved by lawmakers for the current fiscal year. But the general revenue portion is down, roughly 10 percent, from the $3.28 billion originally approved for the current year.

I'm tempted to dwell on that slippery phrase "originally approved for the current year," pondering what the decrease (or increase) is for the new budget as compared to the supplemental-adjusted version for this year. Instead, I'll move on to superimpose this from the article on state revenue that I posted earlier:

Altogether, Rhode Island’s general revenues fell by $405 million, to $2.486 billion, for the 11 months through May 31, according to a report issued Monday by the state Department of Revenue. ...

Paul L. Dion, chief of the state Office of Revenue Analysis, said that, for technical reasons, a revision will be made that will end up boosting total general revenues by about $50 million.

So the general revenue budget fell roughly 10% to $2.952 billion, but actual revenue over the past year has fallen 14% to $2.486 billion (or, with the $50 million adjustment, 12% to $2.536). So not only is the General Assembly doing nothing to stop state revenue from decreasing, but it isn't even keeping expenditures' pace with revenue as it's lost.

So maybe the strategy is really to drive us complainers out of the state. How blissful all will be then! Just spending each year's unpredicted windfall without the painful noise from taxpayers. On next year's agenda: A memories tax for anybody who's ever lived in Rhode Island (pension-bearing public-sector union members exempted, of course).

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Inexplicably, limitations of revenue seem too often to be a secondary consideration when state or local gov't bodies in Rhode Island sit down to establish the level of annual spending.

Posted by: Monique at June 18, 2009 7:57 AM

Can I just ask why spending would be UP 12%? Shouldn't spending be down, since revenues are down? I mean if I have a cut in revenues in my house, I don't spend more, I spend less. What am I missing here?

Posted by: Patrick at June 18, 2009 10:47 AM
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