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House Finance budget under diverse fire

May 28, 2010

Give House Finance Chairman Steven Costantino credit for having a sense of humor. A framed photo of Costantino with his face buried in his hands — an apt image given the state’s ongoing budget woes — graces the desk of his State House office. And that was the place where Costantino yesterday, in a briefing for reporters, characterized House Finance’s budget as a victory for taxpayers.

But the spending plan has come under fire, not surprisingly, from an array of sources across the ideological spectrum. Providence Mayor David Cicilline says the budget cuts state support for education when it’s most needed. The Rhode Island Statewide Coalition, noting how cities and towns face the brunt of cuts, says the spending cut will force local tax increases. Republican gubernatorial candidate John Robitaille says the end of federal stimulus money in fiscal 2012 will represent a disaster without sharper cuts in state spending. And Moderate Party candidate Ken Block, during a taping this morning of WPRI/WNAC-TV’s Newsmakers, also said the budget fails to go far enough in pursuing structural reform.

Costantino, as he had done previously in recent years, called the budget an attempt to make the best of bad times. The Finance chairman said he expects a school-funding formula to emerge in short order from the General Assembly — something he might tout during his Providence mayoral campaign. But considering the sting of the legislature’s cuts to cities and towns, there may be other times when Costantino again wants to bury his face in his hands.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Peter Simon permalink
    May 29, 2010 3:49 pm

    Increasing budgets for schools has not proved to be that important to improving performance. I doubt there will be much impact of reducing budget either. The real reforms need to come way upstream of schools in neighborhoods where we find more than 40% of young families headed by single poorly educate single women raising children in isolation. Schools and the so called reformers in RI are remarkably silent about the evidence supporting investment in early childhood to improve school outcomes. Don’t believe me, read a nobel prize winning labor economist at U. of Chicago, james heckman.

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