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Melo seen as frontrunner to chair House Finance

December 31, 2010

The new year will bring not just fresh hopes and aspirations for Rhode Island and its denizens, but an almost $300 million deficit for the fiscal year starting July 1. All this comes as the powerful House Finance Committee — which will be on the frontlines of dealing with the budget gap — is going through its greatest turnover in a generation.

Eight of the committee’s 16 former members will be gone when the General Assembly starts its next session on Tuesday, including chairman Steven Costantino, a leading state budget expert who is poised to head up Health and Human Services in th Chafee administration.

While Representatives John DeSimone and Raymond Gallison have expressed interest in succeeding Costantino, On Politics has learned, Finance vice-chairman Helio Melo is considered the frontrunner.

Melo remained low-key about his chances during a recent interview, and House Speaker Gordon Fox was similarly muted on the question. If Fox chooses to appoint him as Finance chairman, Melo says, “It would be a great honor and a great challenge.”

Such modesty aside, the setting for this interview — the emptied-out State House office formerly used by Costantino, with a crate for one of Melo’s dogs sitting unoccupied in a corner — was conspicuous in itself.

I’ll have more on this in a story set to air Tuesday during WRNI’s Morning Edition.

For now, here’s a rundown on what happened to the eight departing members of House Finance (Democrats unless noted)

Lost runs for reelection: Joseph Almeida; Kenneth Carter; Christopher Fierro; Douglas Gablinske; Mary Ann Shallcross Smith.

Ran for another office: Costantino.

Didn’t seek reelection: Joanne Giannini; William Murphy.

Past members who won relection: Laurence Ehrhardt (R); Gallison; Russell Jackson; Melo; Eileen Naughton; William San Bento Jr.; John Savage (R); Agostinho Silva.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ron Behagen permalink
    January 1, 2011 3:26 am

    John Desimone ???..give me abreak he’s a joke…represents club elements, mugshots, karma and every other derelict nightclub…now he wants to run the state budget…how about a marathon..maybe can run that also

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