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Rhode Island state budget (2010-2011)

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Rhode Island addressed a deficit of $427 million for FY 2011 with a $7.8 billion budget bill passed in June 2010.[1][2] Gov. Donald Carcieri warned in 2009 that the situation could get worse as the turning point in the economic downturn had not been reached and in light of the state's growing 12.8% unemployment rate, and did not sign the recent budget bill due to its reliance on federal funds.[3][4]

Rhode Island had a total state debt of $9,087,812,958 when calculated by adding the total of outstanding debt, pension and OPEB UAAL’s, unemployment trust funds and the 2010 budget gap as of July 2010.[5]

2011 State spending & deficit in billions[6]
Total spending Human services Education Government Protection Transport Natural Resources
$7.5 $2.96 $2.1 $1.4 $0.45 $0.42 $0.097
2011 Local spending & deficit in billions[7]
Total spending Pension Healthcare Education Welfare Protection Transport Debt
$4.1 $0.2 $0 $2.1 $0.2 $0.7 $0.2 $2.6

Fiscal Year 2011 State Budget

See also: Archived Rhode Island state budgets

Find the state’s FY2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) compiled by the state government online.[8]

On November 10, 2010, financial advisers advised lawmakers that the state's revenues were approximately $16.7 million higher than expectations.[9]

In June 2010, the General Assembly passed a $7.8 billion state budget for 2010-11, which was crafted to close both a $182 million deficit for FY2010, which ended June 30, 2010, and a projected $386 million shortfall for FY 2011, which started on July 1, 2010. The budget did not raise sales or income taxes. It pared back public-employee pensions payouts for state retirees by eliminating cost-of-living increases for retirement benefits above $35,000.[1] State retirees were also made to wait until age 65 to get their first increase.[4]

The budget reduced state aid to cities and towns by $150 million over 13 months, but allowed the municipalities to compensate for the loss by taxing all but the first $500 in value of cars and trucks; before they were blocked from taxing the first $6,000.[4] The cut in local aid led to some towns shutting off their street lights and closing swimming pools.[10]

The governor said he would not sign or veto, meaning it would become law without his signature.[1] Carcieri cited its inclusion of $108 million in federal Medicaid payments that had not yet been approved in Washington as a key reason for refusing to sign the budget.[1] The budget included a provision permitting the governor to make across-the-board cuts if the Medicaid money was not approved by Congress.[1] Carcieri was not wholly negative, however, saying in a news release, “I believe we had set Rhode Island on a course that allows the state to emerge from the recession stronger and more competitive. We had done better than hold the line on taxes. We had reduced taxes for most Rhode Islanders. We had improved the business climate by supporting access to capital and loan-guarantee programs, tackling regulatory reforms, making it easier to did business."[4]

Federal Funds

The FY2011 state budget assumed that the state would receive about $107 million from the federal government for Medicaid reimbursements.[11] In actuality, the state received $70 million for Medicaid and nearly $33 million dedicated to schools.[11] Gov. Carcieri said he would like to put the entire $103 million towards Medicaid, but it was unclear if the governor could alter the destination of the federal funds clearly marked for education and the Assembly would have to approve the move.[11]

Budget background

See also: Rhode Island state budget and finances

The June 2009 finalized FY 2010 expenditures were set at $7.81 billion, $146.2 million more than Gov. Carcieri recommended. The General Revenue budget was $3 billion, $78.7 million less than the Governor's recommendation and $0.8 million less than FY 2009 ($404.9 million less than FY 2008). The budget incorporates $633.5 in federal stimulus money, $189.3 of which was directly for state budget relief.[12][13]

Rhode Island's fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30 of the following year. According to the state Constitution, every year the Governor must present a spending recommendation to the Legislature. However, prior to the Governor's presentation to the Legislature on the third Thursday in January, the Governor reviews individual agency requests along with past and present expenditure and revenue data. Both the Senate and the House use the following months to making necessary adjustments to the proposed budget bill. Once both houses approve a final budget the bill returns to the Governor who may veto legislative appropriations. The Legislature may override any veto by a two-thirds majority vote.[14]

Budget figures

The following table provides a history of Rhode Island's expenditures and gross domestic product (GDP).

Fiscal Year Expenditures (billions) GDP (billions)
2000 $6.4[15] $33.6[15]
2001 $7.2[15] $35.1[15]
2002 $7.9[15] $36.9[15]
2003 $8.4[15] $39.4[15]
2004 $8.9[15] $42.1[15]
2005 $9.2[15] $43.1[15]
2006 $9.6[15] $45.7[15]
2007 $10.1[15] $46.9[15]
2008 $10.5[15] $48.1[15]
2009 $11.0*[15] $49.3*[15]

Accounting principles

See also: Rhode Island government accounting principles

The Rhode Island Auditor General was the State of Rhode Island's legislative auditor, conducting financial and performance audits to provide independent information to the General Assembly on a variety of topics including the State's financial condition, its use of federal funds in compliance with federal law and regulations, and whether programs were operating efficiently and effectively. The audit reports were published online. Ernest A. Almonte had been the Auditor General of the State of Rhode Island since 1994.[16]Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag Rhode Island's CAFRs were annual publications of the Rhode Island Office of Accounts and Control under Marc A. Leonetti as State Controller. Despite the tardiness of previous CAFRs, the Office of Accounts and Control already had posted the preliminary 2009 CAFR on its Web site.[17]

The Office of Accounts and Control was responsible for the financial integrity and accountability of state government through sound administrative and accounting controls and procedures. The office was also responsible for the preparation and/or coordination of several publications, including the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Condensed State Financial Report, State Payroll Manual, Procedural Handbook of the Department of Administration, and the Consolidated Statewide Cost Allocation Plan.[18]

Credit Rating Fitch Moody's S&P
Rhode Island[19] AA- Aa3 AA

Economic Stimulus Package

The state would receive approximately $107 million from the federal government under HR 1586, a $26 billion plan to give states money for Medicaid and education that the President signed into law on August 10, 2010.[20][21]

Rhode Island received approximately $1.08 billion from the $787 billion dollar ARRA 2009 economic stimulus.[22] All told, the federal stimulus plan would create or save 12,000 jobs in Rhode Island, based on White House estimates.[23]

According to preliminary reports, Rhode Island was expected to receive:

  • $3.4 million would be used towards local train stations[24]
  • $165 million in stabilization funds[25]
  • $135 million towards public school and three public colleges[25]
  • $11 million for the Providence VA Medical Center[26]
  • $17 million to retrain workers and employ youth[27]

Budget transparency

Rhode Island began posting its checkbook register online in February of 2008. The site was created using existing monies within the current state budget.[28] It allows citizens to view the Treasury's Accounts Payable expenditures.[29] The checkbook register was posted by the Treasurer of Rhode Island, Frank T. Caprio as fulfillment of his campaign promise made in 2006:

"This pilot project achieves a key priority of my administration. Our hope was that the Office of the General Treasurer's transparency site would quickly become the model for state and local government in their efforts to be more accessible and accountable to the taxpayers of Rhode Island," Treasurer Caprio said.[29]

The site also contains information on the current years fiscal statement, budgets and some general salary data.[30] The state also had various Independent transparency sites.

Rhode Island's Department of Administration began posting its expenses online in February, 2009.[31][32]

Government tools

The State of Rhode Island maintains its own Transparency Portal, which contains links to the FY 2009 financial records and personnel statements of fifteen government departments. These individual Transparency Portals can be accessed via the links below.[33]

The following table was helpful in evaluating the level of transparency provided by the Transparency Portal:

Criteria for evaluating spending databases
State Database Searchability Grants Contracts Line Item Expenditures Dept/Agency Budgets Public Employee Salary
RI Transparency Portal Y
600px-Yes check.png
600px-Yes check.png
600px-Yes check.png
600px-Yes check.png
600px-Red x.png

See also: Evaluation of Rhode Island state website

Economic Stimulus Transparency

  • The state would receive approximately $209 million from the federal government under HR 1586, a $26 billion plan to give states money for Medicaid and education that the President signed into law on August 10, 2010.[34][35]
  • Rhode Island established an economic recovery website to show how legislators and government officials in Rhode Island were spending Federal funds.[37]

Independent transparency sites

The Ocean State Policy Research Institute had launched a transparency website called the Transparency Train that provides access to a variety of websites designed to present public information in a Google-style searchable format.[38]

The Rhode Island Statewide Coalition Foundation maintains a transparency website called the as well as Rhode Island Votes, which displays comprehensive legislation and voting records.[39]

The Ocean State Policy Research Institute had also recently established, a transparency website dedicated to tracking the federal stimulus money coming into the state. RI Stimulus Watch provides users with information on all public projects being funded by the federal stimulus money and allows the public to vote on whether or not they support each project, as well as to post comments. Projects can be sorted by cost, location, and most/least critical (based on user ratings).[40]

In addition, the Ocean State Policy Research Institute was developing a site dedicated to transparency in public school spending, which it plans to launch later this year.

Government transparency site

The State of Rhode Island maintains its own Transparency Portal, which contains links to the FY 2009 financial records and personnel statements of fifteen government departments. These individual Transparency Portals can be accessed via the links below.[41]

See also

Rhode Island government sector lobbying Rhode Island state budget and finances Rhode Island public pensions

Rhode Island state government salary

External links

  • Department of Children, Youth and Families Find out how much of CYF's $240,913,187.11 FY 2009 expenditures went towards residential services, foster care payments, and subsidy programs for state dependents and delinquents.
  • Deparment of Health Analyze three major components of DOH's $76,983,162.37 FY 2009 budget: pharmaceuticals, training consultants, and medical supplies.
  • Office of the Adjutant General/Military Staff See how much money was spent on building renovations and improvements, renting outside properties, and fuel by the Office of the Adjutant General/Military Staff.
  • Department of Public Safety Find out how much the DPS spends on State Police retirement pensions, construction in progress, and military supplies.
  • Department of Education In FY 2009, RIDE spent $942,454,306.39 on projects such as education and community aid, teacher retirement pensions, and scholarships, loans, and grants.
  • Department of Corrections DOC expenditures for FY 2009 totaled $214,932,485.49, with large portions spent on medical care and pharmaceuticals, building maintenance and repair, and ISF overhead/service charges.
  • Department of Revenue Look at DOR expenditures on lottery commissions, postage and postal services, and contruction in progress.
  • Department of Elderly Affairs The DEA was responsible for public transit transfers, grants, and other financial services for the elderly.
  • Department of Business Regulation The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation spent $9,753,489.88 in FY 2009, including large expenditures on actuarial financial services, postage and postal services, and management consultants.
  • Department of Labor and Training Much of the DLT's FY 2009 expenditures went towards non-state SDA payments, municipal police and fire pensions, and non-taxable claims, settlements, judgments, and torts.
  • Department of Environmental Management Find out how much the DEM spends on land, renting outside property, and environmental services.
  • Department of Transportation Major expenditures in the DOT FY 2009 budget include transfers to the Garvee Fund, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, and transfers to the Economic Public Transit Authority.
  • Office of the Governor See how much of the Office of the Governor's $4,943,911.60 FY 2009 budget went into ISF overhead/service charges, office supplies and equipment, computers, and telephones.
  • Department of Administration The DOA spent $791,990,050.26 in FY 2009, large portions of which went towards appropriated aid, medical claims and premiums, and transfers to the RI Convention Center Authority.
  • Office of the General Treasurer Find out how much the Office of the General Treasurer spent on refunds and bad debt, non-taxable and taxable claims and settlements, and renting outside property in FY 2009.

Additional reading


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Providence Business News "Gov. OKs $7.8B budget despite concerns" June 10, 2010
  2. The Providence Journal "Budget deficit less than expected" May 11, 2010
  3., "State deficit grows by $30.2 Million," October 7, 2009
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Providence Journal "Carcieri: Budget takes positive steps for Rhode Island" June 12, 2010
  5. State Budget Solutions “States Hide Trillions in Debt” July 22, 2010
  6. State of Rhode Island Budget Office, FY2011 Budget Overview
  7. USA Spending, State Guesstimated* Government Spending
  8. FY 2011 CAFR
  9. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named revenues
  10. National Public Radio "State Budget Gaps: Debt Holes Deepen" Sept. 10, 2010
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 The Providence Journal "Diversion of education funds up to Assembly" Sept. 2, 2010
  12. House Fiscal Advisory Staff, "Budget as Enacted Fiscal Year 2010," August 19, 2009
  13. FY 2010 state budget
  14. State of Rhode Island, "Budget process primer," accessed April 19,2009 (dead link)
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 15.11 15.12 15.13 15.14 15.15 15.16 15.17 15.18 15.19 US Government Spending, "Rhode Island State and Local spending," accessed April 15,2009
  16. Rhode Island Office of Auditor General Web site, retrieved November 10, 2009
  17. Rhode Island Office of Accounts and Control Web site, retrieved November 10, 2009
  18. Rhode Island Office of Accounts and Control Web site, retrieved November 10, 2009
  19. State of Indiana, “State Credit Ratings-as of June 24, 2009"
  20. Federal Fund Information for States “ARRA FMAP Extension & Education Jobs Fund Totals” Aug. 11, 2010
  21. H.R. 1586
  22. State of Rhode Island, "Frequently Asked Questions-Economic Recovery and Reinvestment," accessed April 15,2009
  23. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, "Impact," accessed April 15,2009
  24. The Providence Journal, "In R.I., $3.4 million of the federal stimulus package for train stations," March 27,2009
  25. 25.0 25.1 Providence Journal, "Stimulus money for Rhode Island's public colleges at risk," March 24,2009
  26. Associated Press, "RI Veterans Centers Getting Stimulus Funds," March 28,2009
  27. Associated Press, "R.I. gets $17M to train unemployed workers, youth," March 30,2009 (dead link)
  28. Rhode Island State Treasurer, How much did this project cost?
  29. 29.0 29.1 Rhode, Treasurer Caprio Debuts State's First Ever Online, Real-time Checkbook of State Spending, Feb. 9, 2009
  30. Rhode Island Treasurer, 2009 Budget
  31., "Department of Administration Launches Transparency Portal," 02/16/2009
  32. Rhode Island Open Government
  33. Transparency Portal
  34. Federal Fund Information for States “ARRA FMAP Extension & Education Jobs Fund Totals” Aug. 11, 2010
  35. H.R. 1586
  36. Wall Street Journal, "Stimulus spending by state," April 9,2009
  37. Island Recovery (dead link)
  38. Transparency Train
  41. Transparency Portal