April 16, 2011

David Cicilline Explains that He is Not Delusional, Because Spending Was Reined-In In the Years that Providence's Budget Grew by 71 Million Dollars

Carroll Andrew Morse

In an op-ed in today's Projo, First District Congressman David Cicilline defends his defense of his record as Mayor of Providence, as well as defending the record itself...

Five days before my election to Congress, last November, I said that Providence was in “excellent financial condition.” Today, Mayor Angel Taveras faces a critical deficit, and people want to know whether I was delusional, not paying attention, or not telling the truth.

It was none of the above...

Finding a way to close the nearly $60 million budget shortfall that I faced on my first day was urgent, as was establishing a plan to restore the city’s fiscal health.

Within two years, we reined in spending, cut hundreds of positions from city government, negotiated concessions from unions and enacted serious financial reforms, such as requiring employees for the first time in the city’s history to contribute to their health-care insurance and initiating long-overdue pension reform.

I don't think that the case for "not delusional" is proven through this op-ed.

According to the annual figures that are compiled by the RI Division of Municipal Finance, municipal-side spending by the City of Providence in the first budget of the Cicilline administration (FY2004) increased by 19.5% over the previous year. In the fiscal year after that, municipal-side spending grew by a further 3%. On the education side of the budget, spending grew by 7% over the previous year in Cicilline's first budget, then remained level in his second...

% Change From
Previous Year
% Change From
Previous Year

Source: Division of Municipal Affairs of the Rhode Island Department of Revenue.

In terms of absolute numbers, spending by the City Providence increased from $490.8 million in the fiscal year that preceded Mayor Cicilline's first budget to $562.3 in the fiscal year covered by his second budget. Apparently, increasing a budget by $71.5 million over a two-year period is what Congressman Cicilline refers to as "reining in spending".

And while Providence's official financial report shows that the Ciciline administration did cut almost 200 positions from the city payroll in his first two years in office, it also shows that there were 31 more municipal-side positions in Providence in Mayor Cicilline's final fiscal year than there had been at the start of his first fiscal-year...

Year# Municipal
# School
# Total

Source: City of Providence, Rhode Island, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2010. Page 85.

(The major gain in municipal-side personnel in the latter-half of the Cicilline administration was in the area classified as "public works, miscellaneous". Also, there are now 40+ more building inspectors in Providence than in the pre-Cicilline days, though in terms of head-count, this is cancelled out by the fact there are 40+ fewer people in the "Firefighting department").

Finally, it should be noted that Congressman Cicilline does not claim in today's op-ed that 445 positions were eliminated during his tenure of mayor of Providence, a claim which he had repeated several times after the story Providence's "surprising" financial troubles broke after Mayor Tavares' innauguration. The claim is not supported by the numbers in the city's most recent financial report -- but if the Congressman follows his existing pattern, maybe he will tell us what he really meant by this statement in a year or two.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Please send this in some form to the ProJo's editors. I have a feeling that many people will simply take his OpEd at his word. Try to get this info out there too.

Posted by: Patrick at April 16, 2011 9:46 PM

Awesome job, Andrew.

Yes, even in government-speak, where a reduction to a projected budget is considered a "cut", an increase of $71 million cannot be viewed as "reining in spending".

Posted by: Monique at April 17, 2011 8:43 AM

If he's not delusional, it must be some kind of hallucinogenic involved.

Posted by: John at April 17, 2011 1:26 PM

David never would let the truth get in the way of a good soundbite...maybe the Projo can use it when they endorse him in the next election.

Posted by: JTR at April 21, 2011 10:48 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.