January 17, 2013

The Governor's 2014 Budget for Rhode Island in Historical Perspective

Carroll Andrew Morse

Here is the recent history of Rhode Island state government expenditures updated to reflect the Governor's proposed budget for 2014, made possible in part by the fast work done by the State of Rhode Island Budget Office to make the complete budget available on the ri.gov website.

As always, actual dollar amounts spent (or, in the cases of FY2013 and FY2014, to be spent) are presented first.


The next chart takes the spending amounts from all sources and adjusts them for inflation, based on data available from the Department of Labor and Training (and with 2% inflation is assumed for next year). The most distinctive feature of this chart is that FY2014 potentially represents a fourth consecutive year where state expenditures will be relatively stable relative to inflation, following more than a decade of nearly linear, year-by-year spending growth.


The amount of state government funded by general revenues (basically state taxes) does continue to grow in the Governor's proposed budget. If the totals in the Governor's proposed FY2014 budget are ultimately outlaid, Rhode Island general revenue spending will have grown by about 2.5% per year faster than inflation over the first three years of the Chafee administration.


The last chart shows the Rhode Island state budget's Federal funding. The spike in "General Government" that occurred in FY2010 that has been gradually drawn down since then falls largely under the heading of grants and assistance offered by the Department of Labor and Training -- presumably unemployment insurance related. It is interesting to note that increased spending under "human services" makes up much of the difference this fiscal year and next.


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I dialed-in the 'bottom line' from state budgets going back to 1991 and then adjusted for inflation. I got a number that showed RI's state government expanding overall at 3.2 times inflation.

Did other state governments also grow like this? What's driving the increases? Are we getting 3.2 times the government that we were in the 1990s?

Posted by: mangeek at January 18, 2013 9:48 AM


I've often wondered how Lincoln Almond manages to dodge any serious blame for contributing to the state's chronic financial woes.

Posted by: Andrew at January 18, 2013 5:28 PM
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